A survey apparently revealed some startling statistics: one in 10 (13 per cent) of under 35s who replied didn’t not know that Paris is in France and 12 per cent thought renowned Italian fashion centre, Milan, is actually a French city!
The lack of knowledge that the young of UK appear to have about their neighbour is having an impact on France as a holiday destination with 74 per cent of British 18-24 year olds admitting they have never hopped over the channel for a visit. Many of the young people surveyed said that if they had better knowledge of the destination and could speak some of the language it would make them consider a holiday in France more seriously.
So how come they feel this way?
When I was at school, French was on the core curriculum as it is today. I remember my first trip at 14 and although I asked for jambon (French for ham) with my breakfast toast instead of asking for confiture (French for jam) which is what I really wanted, I was still able to converse well enough with my host family thanks to basic school French lessons and we have lots of visitors who know very few words of French but armed with a phrase book and a smile – they manage perfectly well.
How come too that young people don’t seem to be aware that France offers fabulous beaches for a relaxed holiday from St Tropez to Sables D’Ollone? They’re not aware of music festivals such as that as Main Square at Arras. Or of the fantastic carnivals where people celebrate their culture and tradition and welcome visitors as friends. You can have great weekend stays in luxury resorts like Le Touquet with its designer shops, casino, clubs and wonderful restaurants. There’s Paris and Lille. Christmas markets. Activity holidays, camping, glamping and ski-ing. Let’s face it France offers just about everything anyone could ever want from a holiday – young or old.
The other thing that I think younger people would be interested in and don’t seem to be aware of – particularly the X Box generation – are the historic sites.
My son loves coming to France for a holiday – or to help me on my long-term (read never-ending) renovation project. We went to see the Grand Bunker Museum of the Atlantic Wall at Ouistreham in Pas de Calais and we were all utterly fascinated. The realistic recreation in the bunker made it feel as though the Germans who had been based there had just popped out to lunch. There’s a battleship cannon mounted on a railway truck in the grounds which is absolutely huge and an awesome sight.
This little tour started a huge interest in my son (a dedicated X-boxer) and his partner. They went on to take a holiday in Normandy where they were absolutely blown away by the historic sites. Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, the harbour at Arromanches Les Bains, Pegasus Bridge – so many places that he’d seen in his games but hadn’t realised just how much more impressive and emotive it was to actually see those places for real.A bientôt Janine