Students are required to arrive in Angers on the Sunday before the beginning of the program.
Groupe ESA representatives and host families will welcome them at the train station !
First week : Introduction to France and the European Union.
The first week is devoted to French history and civilization and the organization and role of the European Union. In addition, there are lectures on European geography, social issues, and international food concerns. During the week, students visit the Cointreau factory, one the world's most famous producers of liquors.
First week-end : Cultural trip into Normandy. Travelling by bus, the first stop is the Memorial Museum in Caen, dedicated to World War II and the invasion of Normandy. The next day, the group goes to the landing beaches, the 'Pointe du Hoc', a preserved German artillery battery, and the American Cemetery. During the trip, the group is hosted in a warm and hospitable youth hostel, located in Bayeux -home of the famous Bayeux Tapestry- a small town close to Caen. On the way back, the group visits the Mont Saint-Michel, one of the France's most popular tourist attractions. A guided tour is also provided in a medieval town, either Saint-Malo or Dinan.
Second and Third Weeks : a choice of four options.
The second week begins by a two-week concentration for the four options :
- Agriculture & Agribusiness : This option is one the traditional strengths of Groupe ESA (the host school in Angers). Experts in dairy farming, animal production, plant production, and organic farming offer lectures and numerous field trips to various production facilities and governmental research stations in the region. In addition, the option provides an in-depth look at French companies in agribusiness and at the French food distribution system, particularly from a marketing point of view.
- Horticulture : Angers and the entire region surrounding it, because of their mild climate and rich soil, have a very sizable horticulture industry. The Horticulture option offers lectures describing the growth and development of the business and its impact on the regional economy. Interspersed throughout the two weeks are field trips to key companies in the area. One of the most interesting visits is to an historical garden, where students learn about the industrial, cosmetic and medicinal uses of plants over the last century.
- Viticulture & Wine making : The wine industry and its exponential growth in the past ten years have led the Groupe ESA to create the MSc International Vintage -Vine, Wine and Terroir Management- Master selected in the ERASMUS MUNDUS Program by European Union A short drive through the area exposes vineyards as far as the eye can see. Anjou and Val de Loire are well-known for their Protected Denomination of Origin Wines (P.D.O.). This important business, so essential to French culture, is presented by experts who carefully explain both the technical and commercial aspects of wine production. Visits to many wineries are a must !
- Rural Tourism & Gastronomy : France has been a world leader in the development of rural tourism. Since World War II, over 60,000 'farm lodges' have been created to welcome travellers to the countryside at very reasonable prices. From simple room rentals to week-long stays in a fully-equipped apartment, this vast system contributes to maintain rural populations. All aspects of the system are presented, along with numerous field trips. This option also studies food habits and tastes and how they are developped. What makes French cooking so famous ? Students learn the answer to this question and visit both laboratories and food-processing facilities in addition to restaurants, during their two-week culinary adventure.
Second weekend : Cultural trip into the Loire Valley castles.
Third weekend : free.
Fourth week :
- on the Tuesday : departure from Angers to tour of the Cathedral of Chartres (arguably the world's most beautiful Gothic cathedral) - on the Wednesday : departure for a guided tour in Versailles, Louis XIV's castle. - for the last two nights : the trip ends up in Paris, where each student can visit the capital on his own with the help of the ESA representative. The program includes a 'bâteau-mouche' cruise which is a lovely way to discover Paris.