I was looking for a French immersion course and when I found Le Bourdil
Blanc I struck gold. What an immersion experience it was! I absorbed French
language and culture through lessons, delicious food and wine as well as
afternoon trips to various places in Dordogne. From the moment I got off the
plane in Bergerac (max 15 min drive from Le Bourdil Blanc), everything was
taken care of for me. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. The group got on
really well and we had a great time together.
I felt enchanted by the house which is full of fabulous pieces of furniture, has a splendid dining room where we had many delectable meals and a living room with a fireplace making it too welcoming to leave.
The days were well planned offering time to learn, relax, see the sights and even do a bit of shopping. French was spoken all the time and with the teachers and Jane's (the host) friends accompanying us at meals and on trips, the lessons never really stopped.
I not only enriched my vocabulary, and became more confident in speaking French, but also learnt a great deal about French daily life, French culture and even French economy (all in French of course). The course inspired and motivated me to study when I arrived back home, which I have been doing since.
Top notch classes in French! Over 3 decades ago, I taught French in high school. Since then, I had spoken French rarely although had been to France within the last 15 years. So my French was rusty. However, the professors at this week-long program of immersion in French language and culture were excellent at adjusting and honing my skills. Alexandra, Florent and Clotilde presented a fascinating, intellectually stimulating array of topics and methods that engaged our eager small group. The included excursions to the historic beautiful towns and estates were fantastic guided tours given by our native French professors. Their knowledge and depth of history and culture was very impressive. The proprietor of Bourdil Le Blanc, Jane Hanslip, is absolutely the most generous, accommodating, industrious and fascinating entrepreneur I have met who could not have made my stay any more spectacular. The surprise visits, delicious meals (Bernadette, le chef is excellent) and movies Jane provided to us were delightful. All I can say is Wow! Also, I swam in the lovely heated pool (in October, no less!) and played tennis with equipment all included
For the fifth year in a row, I have spent a week at Le Bourdil Blanc totally immersed in French language and culture. With nothing but the well-being of her guests on her agenda, our generous host Jane has found the perfect formula and sticks to it - three hours of classes in the morning, divided into two sessions with different native French speaking teachers, an excellent lunch, a cultural visit in the afternoon to one of the Dordogne’s historic sites, aperitifs in the elegant drawing room and a superb dinner in the large and beautifully furnished dining room. This winning formula remains the same but every course is different because of the different students and the varying content of the lessons. This year we were six students of wide-ranging ages, from disparate backgrounds and four different countries. We got on together like a house on fire! It was most definitely a French house as we spoke French the whole time and no doubt our companionship was greatly assisted by the warm and welcoming ambiance created by Jane.
New friends, fine food and
wines, beautiful accommodation in a peaceful setting; what more could I wish
for? I spent a week at le Bourdil Blanc on a French course which I enjoyed
enormously. The style of the week did create an informal, country house weekend
atmosphere which was very relaxed and easy-going. My room, although simple, was
very clean and stylish, with one of the most comfortable beds I've ever slept
in, and my bathroom was wonderful. The French teachers were all lovely,
especially the charming and erudite renaissance man, Alexandre. I learned a
lot, improved my French, and am inspired to learn more.
The domestic staff were excellent, especially the cook, Bernadette. I have come away from my very pleasant week almost as inspired to learn more about French cookery as I am to improve my French. Thanks to Jane and the rest of her team for a most enjoyable week.
“Had a marvellous time! Great people! Great experience! Never a dull moment – so much to do.”
“Serious learning with lots of humour included. Excellent.”
“Every need was met, superb accommodation, food, teaching, company. A lovely way to spend a week.”
“I feel that I have entered into the French way of life in a remarkably short space of time.”
“Really excellent. My notebook has a wealth of new words and fresh ideas to work on in the days to come.”
“A most enjoyable week, varied in programme and visits, wonderful hosts who were responsive to the group.”
“The Bourdil Blanc combines beautiful surroundings, comfortable accommodation and delicious food to give a real French experience.”
“I have learned an enormous amount in a very short time. Thank you!”
“I do not regret a dime.”
About Alexandre (one of the teachers)
“Gifted, adaptable, enthusiastic.”
“He is so enthusiastic and passionate that you can’t help but improve your knowledge of France and the French language.”
Other Tripadvisor reports
I have recently returned from my third French Immersion course in successive years at Le Bourdil Blanc and found it just as stimulating and relaxing as the last two. The morning classes may include discussion of a text on a topic of cultural, political or literary interest, some exercises on tricky points of grammar, a dictation and general conversation, but the lessons do not end when the classroom door closes. The main teacher, a cultured, intelligent and multilingual Frenchman, whose spoken French is music to the English ear, takes a genuine interest not only in language and its origins, but also in each of the students and their individual difficulties with learning French. He stayed at Le Bourdil Blanc all week, joining us for every meal, accompanying us on afternoon tours and enriching our minds with French history and culture; he is very approachable and was always available to answer our questions. As with everything in life, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it, and I made sure I wrote down all new words and their meanings and spent time morning and evening running through my vocabulary lists and points of grammar, asking about anything of which I was uncertain. The elegant country house ambiance, spectacular Dordogne countryside and fascinating towns, the generous hospitality from Jane, who offers aperitifs every evening and wine à volonté with meals, not to mention the wonderful cuisine created by the inimitable Bernadette, combine to produce the most comfortable environment for a thrilling learning experience.
I am a regular visitor to Le Bourdil Blanc. I try to attend the French Immersion courses twice a year, in Spring and in Autumn, for although the courses are not intended, nor claimed to be structured language courses, they provide for me, an excellent opportunity to improve most aspects of spoken French. This is achieved in a variety of ways. Most mornings are spent in small groups studying and discussing topics of cultural, historical and political interest. The leaders of these activities are French, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, multilingual with each one having a different teaching style. If requests are made for clarification of specific points relating to language structure and grammar, these have usually been incorporated into the group sessions and when possible, individual lessons have been arranged at no extra cost. Students often have varying levels of ability, so it is worth speaking as much as possible or appropriate, on the Saturday and Sunday, so that the teachers can ascertain everyone's competence and needs in an attempt to create harmonious study groups.
In particular I have appreciated the presence of some of the teachers at all meals and on all excursions. Jane Hanslip, the organizer of the course, has often invited her French, or French speaking friends for drinks and or dinner, which has added interest and ensured that a wide range of subjects is discussed. Naturally, French is spoken all the time and I have found that this has been made easier by enjoying the wines and aperitifs which Jane provides generously to accompany each meal. Bernadette, the talented cook produces satisfyingly varied, delicious and typically French meals, so these combined with the company and conversation of the other students or guests, ensure that each evening becomes an important part of the course. One meal has usually been taken and enjoyed in a local restaurant.
There are so many places to visit in relatively easy driving distance of Le Bourdil Banc and escorted visits with transport provided are arranged on most days throughout the week. In this way I have visited several cities, towns, museums, castles, churches, vineyards, markets, gardens as well as sites of history and pre-history, but there is still sufficient time to enjoy the house and grounds or use the tennis court and swimming-pool, weather permitting. My understanding and appreciation of this region of France has grown considerably as a result of my stays at Le Bourdil Blanc and there is still so much more for me to discover. Television and films in French are available to watch which add to the immersion experience.
The accommodation is comfortable and spacious with each bedroom having a private bathroom. Most of the rooms are in the main house which means that they each have their own character in terms of access, furnishings and facilities. More modern rooms are available in a clever stable conversion approximately fifty metres from the house.
I find the flexible approach to the week's events encourages a holiday spirit in me and as a single traveller, I enjoy the company, comfort, good living and amusement of the week enormously. If anyone is looking for a short holiday with a difference in France, but which also represents, in my opinion, excellent value for money, it might be worth enrolling on the course.
the French immersion course at Le Bourdil Blanc for three years running now.
This year I was one of four 'returners', one lady had been a total of 11 times
before, so Jane and her team undoubtedly have something special to offer!
The language tuition is suitable for learners at all levels but you'll get much more out of the course if you are able to contribute to the conversations in French. I find the tuition motivating and engaging - no tedious whiteboard presentations here! The house has wi-fi so further self-directed study on the internet is always possible.
The tutors stay with the learners at mealtimes and act as knowledgeable guides on the afternoon visits to places such as Perigueux, Sarlat and Monbazillac. This gives everyone ample opportunity to practise what they have learned in the classroom. The courses have helped improve my vocabulary and grammar and now I feel much more confident about speaking French too.
For me this is a wonderful week's holiday with the added bonus of being able to improve my French. The atmosphere is a relaxed country house party, with comfortable accommodation set in extensive grounds with a lake and a swimming pool. One of the highlights of any holiday in France is the food and Le Bourdil Blanc’s chef Bernadette does not disappoint, producing delicious local dishes all served with as much wine as you want.
All in all I think this course offers good value for money.
(This is an update to my forum post of 2014.)
Just outside Bergerac and a few minutes' drive from the airport, this beautiful manor house has been extensively renovated and converted by its delighful owner, Jane, who lives there with her two extremely friendly black labradors.
The accommodation rambles throughout the spacious main house, an adjoining annexe, a converted pigeonnier and some brand new rooms in part of the wonderful old barn. There's a tennis court and a heated swimming pool as well as a small lake in the large grounds to stroll around before evening aperitifs. The countryside here is lovely and Jane is very knowledgeable on local attractions and where to eat. She also has a fabulous local cook who will prepare dinner by arrangement. Breakfast is copious. All bedrooms are en-suite and comfortably furnished with the sort of antiques that look right for the rooms, but not too terrifying to use. Top marks for linens and towels.
You may be lucky enough to stay there when there is a riding holiday happening - the horses look wonderful stabled in the old barn and lend an air of excitement to the house as the riders saddle up in the morning. Otherwise enjoy the peace and serenity of the place and the lovely countryside surrounding it.
Ask for the barn rooms if you like or seek modernity