Student Briefing Pack In the doubt, ask BMA

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BEFORE YOUR DEPARTURE

Thinks you must consider:

  1. Travel arrangement
  2. Insurance
  3. Personal money
  4. Passport-Visa
  5. Photo
  6. Speaking French
  7. Assessment Test
  8. Cancellation 

1. Travel arrangement

Please organise your travel to France as early as possible (this is particularly necessary in the summer when flights are always busy).  If you have any queries about arrival and departure times we are happy to discuss the best options with you. As a rule it is best to arrive in the early afternoon on the Sunday, this gives you plenty of time to settle in to your accommodation once you have arrived in Biarritz.  

2. Insurance

You are not covered either by the College for insurance in any form. It is essential that you have some form of cover. Should you wish to take out an alternative insurance for your programme we are happy for you to do so but PLEASE you MUST take out insurance cover prior to leaving the country. Please REMEMBER to take your policy document with you to France.

BMA has a multi-risk policy that covers participants as part of its "group" contract which covers responsibilities related to activities, - the people who make up the group, without any nominative list being required : administrators, employees, volunteers, children and adults, participants in activities, - the assets belonging to or made available to the group, - it provides global cover through five guarantees adapted to the needs of the group and its members.

3. Personal money

This will obviously vary according to your own needs, but BMA suggests that approximately €100.00 per week should be allowed to cover the cost of snacks, etc...The College will not change money for students, and recommends that you exchange your money for euros prior to departure from your Country 

4. Passport - Visa

This will obviously vary according to your own needs, but BMA suggests that approximately €100.00 per week should be allowed to cover the cost of snacks, etc...The College will not change money for students, and recommends that you exchange your money for euros prior to departure from your Country  

If you are a citizen of the European Union you will need a passport to travel.  Please ensure that it is in date prior to departure, and, (if you are not a citizen of the EU), it will remain valid for a period of 3 months beyond your departure date  If you are not a EU citizen you may also need a visa to enter France.  Please check with your nearest French Consulate for advice.  On the first day of your arrival your passport will be taken into the care of the course organiser to avoid loss or theft. 

As you are required by law in France to carry some form of identification please make & bring a copy of your passport.

5. Photo

BMA would like you to send   a photograph of yourself because we need to ad it on your emergency file and so that when you are met on arrival, your family know who they are looking for.

The easiest option though is to forward BMA a jpeg file of yourself.

6. Speaking French

Ensure you are prepared mentally before you even get on the plane or train.  Language learning is a gradual process, requiring a lot of practice.  This includes making errors and being corrected.  Don’t hold back and wait for that magic moment when you think you will be able to speak perfect French, without practice, that moment will never come!

7. Assessment test

It is imperative that you complete the -Test de Niveau- The best way of allocating the students into the correctly graded classes is to ask you to complete the test without help from anyone, including a dictionary!

It is not obligatory to answer all the questions. If you don’t know the answer, leave it and move on to the next question. It’s really not daunting so please don’t worry. We recommend that you do this three to four weeks before your course start date.  Don’t forget (or we’ll be ringing you up and chasing you to do it)! If you did not send your test before your arrival, you will have no books to follow French courses

8. Cancellation

Cancellation information are indicated on "Terms and Conditions"

9. GOING OUTPERMISSION - LIABILITY - MEDICAL RELEASE

After the booking you will receive a confirmation by email with a personnal link to complete the online test, fill out the Under 18s form and send us your flight details

YOUR JOURNEY TO BIARRITZ

  1. Travel to Biarritz by air
  2. Travel to Biarritz by plane and train
  3. Transfer service
  4. Travel to Biarritz by car
  5. Independent travel
  6. Your first night in France
  7. Phoning home

1. Travel to Biarritz by air

The majority of students arrive by plane at Biarritz Airport.  At present the only direct flight to Biarritz from the UK is operated by Ryanair, there is also a good connection from Dublin with Ryanair. You can also travel by air via Paris where there are daily direct flights to Biarritz operated by Air France from Orly or Roissy Charles de Gaulle airports. For contact information for the above please refer to the last page of this Briefing Pack.

SWISS AIR  Geneve/Biarritz

RYANAIR  Londres/Biarritz  -Brussels/Biarritz  -Dublin/Biarritz  -Stockholm/Biarritz

AIR FRANCE   Paris/Biarritz - Marseille/Biarritz

FLY BE Compagnie  Birmingham/Biarritz  - Bornemouth/Biarritz

EASY-JET   Londres/Biarritz  - Paris/Biarritz - Lyon/Biarritz

SAS SCANDINAVIAN  Copenhague/Biarritz  - Stockholm/Biarritz

VOLOTEA  Lille/Biarritz  - Strasbourg/Biarritz 

2. Travel to Biarritz by plane and train

Alternatively, you can take a flight to Bordeaux, Pau, San Sebastian (Spain) and then the train to Biarritz Station.  The train journey to from Bordeaux to Biarritz takes one and one half hours and your host family will collect you at Biarritz station. We have a transfer service From Bordeaux Airport to Bordeaux the main station. Our corespondent in Bordeaux will by you a train ticket to Biarritz and stay with you till the train departure. The transfer will be around €80.00 for a one-way trip. On request, our transfer service can pick up students to Bordeaux airport, San Sebastian or Pau airport and drive you to your host family 

2. The transfer service

For students staying with private households, the transfer service is offered for arrivals at either Biarritz Airport or the Railway Station and operates for arrivals on Sundays and departures on Saturdays between the hours of 12.00noon and 18.00hrs. 

The two-way transfer is arranged by your hosts, free of charge and we recommend all our students take advantage of it, unless you are being dropped off by car by your parents. Either way remember to return the completed travel online form (Link in your confirmation email) as soon as possible. 

Travel details received later than 2 weeks before travel may mean that a transfer cannot be arranged.

You will be collected from the airport or station by your host family and taken back at the end of your course.

Please collect your luggage and come through Customs.  When being met at the airport, the host family will greet you at the passenger arrivals gate with a sign with your name on it.

If you do not see someone immediately, please wait for at least 10 minutes (they may be meeting someone else from a delayed flight or be seeing to a puncture!).  Only then go to the Information Desk and see if there is a message for you, if not please ask the person at the Desk to call emergency number 06 86 76 21 81 and Michel, in charge of transfers for BMA School will arrive asap.

Disembark and wait in the main arrivals hall, your hosts will meet you here, holding a sign with your name on it. If you should get lost or no one arrives to meet you (please give them at least 15 minutes, they could be trying to park the car) it is imperative that you wait inside the station and don’t wander off anywhere! Only after 10 minutes or so should you ring the BMA emergency number:+33 686 762 181

Remember : Don’t worry! There are rarely problems with transfers so do not worry, we have only given you this information as insurance against the unexpected situation.

Students arriving by car with parents are expected to make their own way to the host accommodation and should arrive between 6.00 am 8.00 pm.

5. Independent travel

If you are not staying with a host family you will need to make your own way from the airport or station to your accommodation.  

Just so you know…

For those not being met, bus n°2 takes you directly to the centre of town. The bus ticket costs 1.00€ (5 tickets = 4.75€, 10 tickets = 9.50€). Tickets can be bought in a newsagents or CHRONO-PLUS (bus company) shop or at school the first day -Bus pass-: 10€ for 1 week.There are also taxis outside the train station that take you directly into town, which will cost approximately 9-15€ 

6. Your first night in France

The shock of meeting strangers in a new setting after a long day’s travel rarely brings out the best in any of us.  Expect to have thoughts such as “What am I doing here?” running through your brain.  A good night’s sleep and getting to the end of the first day at college can do wonders for your sense of happiness and self-confidence.  Please remember that 99% of the students who are arriving on the same day as you, are feeling just as disorientated and the feelings should evaporate within 48 hours of arrival.

7. Phoning home

In order to telephone to (your country)  from France, dial “00 --” and then the required number, removing the “0” at the front of the (your country) area code. If you have people at home who might worry whether or not you reached your destination safely PLEASE make sure you contact them on the first night to say all is well. 

If staying with a host family please do not use the house phone for outgoing calls and only for incoming calls with your host’s permission and by prior arrangement. Mobile phone users are reminded to check with their service provider that they will be able to use their phone in France

YOUR FIRST DAY & LIFE AT COLLEGE

  1. Arrival at school
  2. Teaching material
  3. Students
  4. Methodology
  5. Courses & Time table
  6. College Staff
  7. The Teachers
  8. The College

1. Arrival at school

Your hosts will show you how to get to the college from their house on the first morning. You will be expected to report on the first Monday of your course, at : School = BMA Biarritz 42, avenue J.F. Kennedy 64200 BIARRITZ

You have already completed the language level test on line which enables the teachers to establish your level and the relevant class, prior to your arrival. Morning classes are followed by a break, during which the students generally go outside and have a chance to get to know the other students. After the break, the 3rd lessons is used to ensure the following information is understood properly by the students:

1) general information:  family, tel numbers for the urgencies, Biarritz town, the college exits (in case of fire), course schedules, a timetable of the weekly activities giving the hour & the place to meet, plus details on where to go and what to do for those booked in for the Surfing programme.

2) Map of Biarritz. Each student will have to show where their family lives, where the school is located, the “rendez-vous” points for the activities.

Each one will have to say the name of the host family and her address! 

3) For those students who are + 15/20 minutes walk from the school, Bus passes will be given out . 

After which the students go back into class for the final lesson of the first day. Lunch can then be eaten at the school or on the beach before you go for your first Activities or Surfing session.

On the first day EVERY student must come out of Biarritz centre, and be BACK with their hosts, NO LATER than 18.00hrs. Each family is required to call into BMA staff to confirm that the student has found his way back to the hosts and that all is well. A new intake day can always seem a little chaotic, the staff will do everything they can to explain where you should be and what is going on, so please be patient, order will prevail!

 And remember  If in doubt ASK!

2. Teaching Material

The school will provide:-Pens, books, notebooks...

3. Students

Predominantly students are 15 to 20yrs of age. The students are drawn from European nationalities (mainly British, Spanish, Irish, Swiss, Italian and German) with others joining from all over the world in smaller numbers.

4. Methodology

Please note that tuition in class and communication out of class (even for beginners and from the first day) will be in French.  English will not be used as matter of course (but there is always someone at the college who can speak English, should there be an emergency).

The atmosphere in the classroom is generally informal, however students need to be prepared to work hard and participate fully.

The lessons are a good balance between conversation, grammar, reading, listening and writing.  Although this is an academic programme, the emphasis is very much on the pleasure and benefits of learning another language.  The aim is for students to return home positively motivated and eager to continue making linguistic improvements.

A selection of material other than grammar and exercise books are available for the teacher’s use and these can be supplemented with additional material (according to the group’s linguistic capability) as needed i.e. films, newspapers, advertisements, texts on current affairs and topical issues.

Students will not receive homework assignments to be completed in their free time.

At the end of a course, students receive a teacher’s evaluation concerning the students’ general participation in the class and the level of French attained during the course.

5. The Course

Minimum course duration: 2 weeks - 16, 20, 24, 26 lessons x 45 minutes duration per week. Lessons taught: Monday to Friday- 9h00 to 13h15. Although this is an academic programme, the emphasis is very much on the pleasure and benefits of learning a language.The goal is to ensure you return home positively motivated and eager to continue improving, once home.

-Additional classes can be booked as a mini group session on Morning or afternoon.

French College Plus Points

-20 years experience of teaching French has enabled the college staff to develop a detailed and effective methodology.

-The college grammar books have been specifically designed for each level offered and are provided free of charge to everyone for a practical and personalised experience. Learning and revising grammar is guaranteed on a daily basis through written and oral exercises.

-Each day one lesson will involve carefully selected texts concerning; social issues, civilisation and history. Each topic covered is accompanied by teacher initiated questions as the basis of discussions and debate in class.

-Carefully designed educational supports enliven the oral classes, (tailored and adapted to meet different language level needs of each class) dependant on the students current experience, to facilitate expression and oral comprehension, whilst strengthening written language skills.

-A professionally designed range of audio-visual data, exploring everyday life situations: at the market, in a restaurant, in the family etc. to ensure authentic language skills needed for day to day life are covered.

-A relaxed and vibrant classroom atmosphere to encourage everyone to get involved in the teaching sessions through role-plays, discussions and real life simulations.

-Phonetic corrections are made by the French native speaking teachers throughout the language course addressing the needs of individual students, according to their level and progress, within the group context.

-Each student will be tested prior to departure, by written and oral assessment and will be issued with a certificate of achievement.

ACTIVITIES

French and activities includes: French lessons - One sporting activity - one cultural activite - one French workshop activity -one excursion (Bayonne, Saint Jean de Luz, San Sebastian (Spain) per week.

 aside from a Surf lesson these may include beach ball, Pelote Basque, basket ball, body-boarding, hiking, swimming in a sea water swimming pool etc.  You will also get opportunities to spend time at the beach. Cultural activities; an organised visit to a local rugby match, to the chocolate museum, to the cinema or going bowling together as a group. 

With its long sandy beaches, Biarritz offers endless possibilities for the water-sports enthusiast.

Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne (BAB) is situated on the Atlantic Coast, in the south west of France in the Basque Country.  The area is a very attractive holiday destination because of its diversity and its nightlife!  Inland, Bayonne offers a beautiful riverside setting, medieval old town, famous gothic cathedral and great shopping. Biarritz, just south of Anglet, is a surfers paradise and offers a wide range of daytime holiday activity possibilities and good nightlife, while Anglet is also a surfers’ paradise and for its famous beaches.

For those less actively inclined the region offers superb sight-seeing opportunities and in order to provide students with the maximum benefit from their time, BMA organises a range of guided tours and trips. Students will be informed of the activities on offer for each week and may sign up for them in advance. Depending on the programme you book

SURFING

French and Surfing includes: French lessons - four surf sessions (1 session is 1h30)  -If is possible, one excursion (Bayonne, Saint Jean de Luz, San Sebastian (Spain) per week.

Learn to surf for FOUR afternoons a week with the local Surf Club (exact timetable dictated by the tides) plus join if is possible college excursion. A very popular course choice – so early reservation is essential. Surf lessons take place at the Grande Plage. The beaches used offer a variety of high quality beach breakers and also waves more suitable to beginners. All Surf Instructors hold a diploma from the “Federation de Surf” to prove competence to teach Surfing.  The course is offered through PLUMS – Ecole de Surf.

Plums – Ecole de Surf -9 Rue Garderes- Biarritz. t. 0033 559 241 079

Marc Plumcocq was the European Longboard Champion in 1991 and his team of qualified French Surf Instructors take care of all there students, whatever their prior level of experience.They will teach you the basics and get you up on a wave, or help you acquire more experience, technique and confidence, in safety. The Surf staff speaks English & Spanish, as well as French. Wetsuits and surfboards are included in the course.There are a variety of boards available from beginner boards to more advanced shapes, so that you can progress quickly and safely on the right equipment for you.

The Activities programme cannot be offered in the same week as a Surf course, but students are welcome to book one of each option, on a two week+ course.

6. College Staff

7. The Teachers

All teachers in the school are French nationals with French as their mother tongue, many of them have lived and taught French abroad and speak several languages, therefore relating easily to different cultures. With their enthusiasm and spontaneity, they guarantee lively and effective lessons!

Should you have any queries or need any advice whilst in Biarritz please talk to the school office.

8. The College

Students will enjoy spacious classrooms and excellent facilities in a pretty residential part of Biarritz with easy access to the beaches and town centre.The college is a self-contained college just a 8/10 minute walk from the centre of town. 

The College offers 10 bright and spacious classrooms, a computer room, Stuedents kitchen, a big lounge, a meeting room...you can really enjoy improving your French.

ACCOMMODATION

Arrive: Sunday pm - Depart: Saturday pm

  1. General rules
  2. Host families
  3. Hotels
  4. Additional nights

1. General rules BMA will arrange accommodation for all students taking courses in Biarritz.

For your own comfort and safety we ask you to take note of and to follow the rules outlined below –

A/ The use, sale or possession of illegal drugs is strictly forbidden.  Students not respecting this rule will be sent home immediately at their OWN expense.

B/ No animals, weapons, firearms, explosives, fireworks or open flames (i.e. candles, cookers etc) are allowed in the rooms.

C/ No alcohol is allowed in the rooms of students under age.

D/ You may be given a key to your accommodation. Please keep it very carefully. If you lose it, you may have to pay for a new lock, which could be very expensive!

E/ Damages.  Whilst accidents can happen it is very important that you notify someone if you damage any object in your accommodation and settle up immediately.  The College may act as a mediator between you and the owner but neither they nor BMA can assume responsibility for any damage caused by you.

Accommodation Problems?

Should you feel unhappy with your accommodation within the first few days please consider whether you are suffering from “culture shock” because the French do things differently to the life style you are used to at home. 

If you believe there is a problem, which needs to be addressed, please contact a member of the BMA staff, ideally the Accommodation Officer (Michel) in the first instance and explain the situation to them.

If you still feel that the matter has not been satisfactorily resolved, please contact Patrice DUVERT, School director whilst still in France so that she can act on your behalf.  

Experience suggests that many problems arise out of misunderstanding or misinterpretation due to communication failure – but do remember that you must make an attempt to sort the matter out whilst in France. 

Patrice DUVERT, director of the school recommends you in case of problem in your host family:

-"inform first your parents is going to slow down the solution of the problem! Patrice can resolve   your problem in some minutes!  Know that BMA prefers that every student spends a good stay in Biarritz and will take care of you find a new family very quickly-"

2. Host family Accommodation

Host families are chosen by BMA and offer students the chance to experience the culture of France.  BMA are aware that accommodation is one of the most important factors of your stay and their selection process is rigorous. One of the main criteria for selection is the host family’s enjoyment of hosting a foreign student and a willingness to improve a student’s spoken French.  So take full advantage of your stay with them by practising the language as much as possible.  Who cares if you make mistakes! To ensure that you do enjoy your stay and to avoid possible disappointments and misunderstandings, we have set out some guidelines which we think may be useful:

The host family will provide breakfast, lunch (generally in the form of a picnic meal) and an evening meal, each day.Breakfast: Remember French breakfast is a light meal, so don’t expect a fry up!  Generally speaking it will be a coffee or chocolate drink and a roll or croissant.

Lunch: The hosts will give you a lunch box meal each day to take into school with you (but you eat with the hosts at the weekend).

Evening Meal: The main meal of the day, eaten with your hosts.

There will be a bed, sheets and covers, pillow, closet space and you will have access to a desk or a table (which may be in another room).  Towels may be provided for use in the bathroom but it is generally advisable to take your own, as they can be rather small and useless by UK standards!

You will be sharing a bedroom with another student (same gender, different nationality) unless you specifically request to be placed in accommodation with a friend who books with BMA at the same time as you.

Please be considerate, in many houses the supply of hot water is limited – therefore do NOT use an excessive amount of hot water.

Your hostess will provide bed linen. hostess may be prepared to a little light washing for you (especially if you are tidy) but they don’t have to and they certainly won’t do a stack of washing on demand!

Should you wish to invite a friend to the house, please ask your hostess' permission first (and do not expect her to feed them). It is not customary for guests to invite a friend from the opposite sex into their bedrooms. 

All families are located in Biarritz residential districts, but if not within walking distance, they will be within an easy bus ride of the school.

2. Host family Hotel

Not possible for students under18, unless accompanied by family. There are several hotels close to the school in Biarritz ranging from one to four-star quality.  Prices vary according to season and for the busiest months of July and August bookings must be made at least 3 to 4 months in advance. 

For a single room with toilet, shower and TV but excluding breakfast and taxes, prices range from €65.00 to €140.00 per night.  If you require hotel accommodation please request up-to-date price information.

4. Additional night

Additional nights can sometimes be arranged on request, and will be charged as extra.  Kindly advice BMA of any extra nights required as soon as possible, giving exact dates required, in writing. 

finally what to bring with you to Biarritz!

-Sufficient personal money for the duration of the course, A couple of passport photos (for the school's use) Passport and return ticket, Passport copy or identity card

-Insurance documents,  EHIC Card (if European),A good alarm clock

-Beach plus bath/hand towels, Sun tan lotion (high SPF), Sun glasses, Swimming gear,  Insect repellent cream, Waterproofs and hiking shoes

We wish you a very pleasant and successful stay in Biarritz and a safe journey. Have a fabulous time in Biarritz and try and speak as much French as possible, at all times!

We hope that we have covered any queries that you may have, if there are any further points you wish to raise please contact BMA on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BMA Biarritz French Summer Courses