Headmistress, Miss Cameron wanted to give Downe House girls a worthwhile, forward-looking and unique experience by setting up a base in another country and send a small group of girls from the Lower Fourth to immerse themselves in another language and culture. After a prolonged search, she came across L’Ecole Hampshire in Veyrines de Dommes. It was a ready-made, officially registered, equipped and partially staffed school founded by Jane Box-Grainger who was thinking of retiring. Staff on both sides of the Channel worked extremely hard to make the venture a success. It was decided that the term in France was not just about improving the girls’ dexterity in the French language but was to be the springboard for a fully French experience. The majority of lessons were conducted in French and girls were encouraged to speak the language in their free time. And the DH sortie was born, best described as living lessons ranging from photography coaching to mushroom-hunting, sharing the buzz of Sarlat market and teaching English in the local primary school. The term in France continues to be a unique aspect of the Downe House experience and visiting parents are always thrilled by the confidence with which their daughters chatter in French, order meals and drinks and after their return to school, many comment on their clearly enhanced independent spirits.
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