My story started when I decided to spend my last summer vacation in the countryside of southern France. Before the Chinese New Year, I searched on the Internet and found the website of La Giraudiere. So I filled in the application form. It did take quite a long time until I got the reply of acceptance. But I received Paul’s email before switching my plan to going to Nepal. Being excited about it, I began the visa application.
Since I’m studying in Macau, I applied the Schengen visa at the Consulate of France in Hong Kong and Macau.
Documents to be submitted:
a form duly filled (to be downloaded or available at the Consulate)
2 color ID pictures (35x45mm) with white background
Copy and original of:
valid passport (3 month validity considering your return date in Hong Kong)
Hong Kong ID
Hong Kong visa (3 month validity considering your return date in Hong Kong)
leave letter from the employer
airline reservation with detailed itinerary or receipt and itinerary in English from your travel agent
proof of accommodation (hotel booking or lodging certificate)
medical travel insurance
Additional documents may be required if necessary.
Get your documents organised – for photocopies they check the originals when you summit the application. 整理好你的所有文件，要求复印件的材料使馆人员会在你提交申请的时候出示原件。
Consulate of France in Hong Kong and Macau requires online appointment booking now. However, they don’t accept application from people who are non-residents of HK and Macau. For more information about the visa application, visiting the website of the suitable embassy or consulate for you is the best way to know how you can apply a visa because requirement and process vary.
I booked my flights online through Air France Hong Kong and got a good deal – around 6,400 HKD for return flights between Hong Kong and Paris. It was an e-ticket so I just printed the confirmation letter. Paul sent me a proof letter of accommodation and I bought the travel medical insurance from Bank of China, Macau.
The application went fine although the woman in the Consulate was a bit rude.
I got everything ready and since this is not the first time I travel abroad alone, I don’t have too much problem.
I landed at CDG on a Wednesday afternoon. Thanks to my friend in Paris, her mom and sister came to pick me up at the airport. I stayed in Paris for 6 days until I took the train to Chalais. It’s a good idea to stop in Paris or Bordeaux before you come to Brossac because that gives you chance to adapt to the new environment, especially for those travelling from outside Europe. I had very good experience in Paris. And you can’t tell people you’ve been to France without visiting Paris, right?
Then on a Tuesday, I took the train from Paris to Angouleme, then to Chalais. Paul picked me up at the station. Almost the same time, another new comer, Norwegian girl Therese, arrived from La Rochelle. Then I finally arrived at La Giraudiere.
一个星期二的早上，我先从巴黎坐TGV到Angouleme，再转地区火车到达Chalais。Paul去到车站接我。差不多同一时间，一个新来的挪威女孩也从La Rochelle坐火车过来。然后，我终于到达了La Giraudiere。
It was almost eight in the evening when I arrived at LG and everybody else was waiting us for dinner. I was a bit nervous but I have been feeling being at home since then. Everyone is friendly and funny. La Giraudiere is exactly what I’ve imagined, except that there were not as many animals as I thought, but our lovely Labrador, Sydney, is the greatest dog I’ve ever met! I haven’t been a dog lover since a terrible experience back to my childhood time but I love calm dog like Sydney!
The first day was a day-off for new comers so Therese and I walked to the village centre. It’s small – there is a butcher shop, a small super market, a pastry store, a pharmacy, a post office, a bank, a salon, a tourism office (YES! A tourism office!) and a restaurant. I like this quiet and nice small village, especially when the weather is pleasant. Here you can experience the real south-western French culture, which is definitely different from Parisian.
Working days are from Tuesday to Friday, with a French class in a morning. And we take Saturday to Monday off because there’s a market in Chalais every Monday morning. The market is a very nice place to explore, where there are all kinds of things for sale, ranging from seafood to fresh fruit and vegetables, roasted chicken, household items, cheese and many others.
A normal working day would be like this: breakfast at around 8:00, work begins at 8:30, tea break at 10:30, lunch at 13:30, afternoon tea at 4:30 and dinner at around 7:30. Everyone takes turn to make dinner so we have the opportunity to taste food from all over the world! For our work, we can do gardening, construction of the old house and paperwork in the office. Everyone can find what they’re interested in here.
Conversations during breaks and meals are always interesting. I benefit a lot from all the other members’ experience, including their works, their travel and their studies. We are from different parts of the world, Florida, Utah, Georgia, Scotland, England, Norway and China. So you can not only experience the French country culture but also cultures of other regions. Thanks to Paul, we got the chance to visit nice interesting places in the surrounding area as well, Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, Pons and Royan. Some of us also went to the famous city of wine, Bordeaux.
茶点和餐点桌上的对话永远是有趣的。大家谈论各自的工作、学习和旅程，我从中获益良多。我们来自世界各地：弗罗里达州，犹他州，佐治亚州，苏格兰，英格兰，挪威和中国。所以在这里你能感受到的不仅仅是法国乡村文化，还有其他各个地区的文化。还有感谢Paul，让我们有机会去参观游览周围的地方，包括Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, Pons和Royan。我们还去了著名的红酒之乡– 波尔多。
I’m really enjoying myself here. Four weeks may not be enough to discover the region but I will never forget all that I’ve experienced here and all the friends I met.