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Gap Year


Dates and Details

The Normandy Experience - Gap Year Semester

Fall 2021 Dates: Sept 20th - Dec 5th, 2021

Winter 2022 Dates: Jan 24th - March 27th, 2022

Ages: 18-22

Trip Length: 77 days 

Cost: $11,475 USD (not inclusive of airfare)


  • Live in an 18th century chateau in the heart of Normandy

  • Be immersed in French history and culture

  • Engage with French people in the local community

  • Develop your leadership skills

  • Complete 40 hours of volunteering

  • Experience independent living in a supportive community

  • Discover new creative outlets

  • Optional French language learning

Program Overview

Immerse yourself in French history and culture while building practical skills, developing your leadership style and discovering opportunities for personal growth.  The Normandy Experience Gap Semester focuses on building character, resilience and independence through experiential learning. The program centres around our Four Foundations Curriculum, a blend of cultural and community experiences, leadership skills development and outdoor learning interwoven with reflective and creative practice. The program is taught entirely in English with optional French language learning.

Chateau le Mont Epinguet

Our Residence

A world frozen in time, Chateau le Mont Epinguet offers an opportunity to live surrounded by history. Built in 1751 by Count Mondesir, the château is the highest landmark on the Normandy Cotentin Peninsula. It has housed a nephew of the Pope, a French Admiral and served as German communication headquarters in WWII.  It stood empty for many years until it was bought by the Berridge family in 1991 and brought back to life. The running of our residence is a team effort and students have opportunities to work alongside our live-in chef, shop for meals and help out in the garden.  Read more about the château. 

Curriculum - The Four Foundations

Cultural Engagement

Cultural Engagement is more than just seeing, it involves learning by engaging with the landscape, history and people of the Normandy region through hands-on doing. Trips and excursions are active and participatory and offer opportunities to build skills, develop leadership qualities and expand cross-cultural competency.  

Highlights include:

  • Pilgrimage to Mont St Michel, a 900-year-old monastery on a tidal island

  • Touring the D-Day Landing beaches with a WWII historian

  • Discovering medieval Bayeux and the story of the Normandy Conquest

  • Hiking the coastal headlands of the Nez du Jobourg

  • Milling flour and making bread at a 16th century windmill

  • Kayaking across the marshlands of the Marais


Creative Expression

Enhance your experience of Normandy by engaging with your surroundings through a variety of creative mediums. The program offers workshops and mentoring in Writing, Art and Performance and includes a week-long Digital Filmmaking course.

Highlights include:

  • Full week learning Digital Independent Filmmaking from screenwriting to editing

  • Painting en plien air workshops led by local professional artists

  • Workshops in Digital Photography and Travel writing

  • Internship opportunities in Social Media Management, Writing, Photography and Videography

  • Mentoring for personal creative projects in Writing, Art, Photography, Film and Performance


French Language Learning

For those interested in learning or advancing in French Language skills, the program offers optional French language classes three times per week. The language Program aims to improve conversational French, reading comprehension and writing skills through practical application and daily practice. With very little English spoken in Normandy, there will be plenty of opportunity to use and perfect your French through interaction with the local community, on field trips and through the French-only speaking lounge at the château.

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Compassionate Leadership

Learn how to be a more empathetic leader by honing your listening skills, cultivating patience and fostering positivity in a team environment. Compassionate Leadership blends team building, deep listening and role-play exercises delivered through workshop modules, outdoor experiences and student-led activities. 

Highlights include:

  • Narativ UK Workshop developing deep listening skills through personal storytelling

  • Workshop in leadership differences and discovering your personal leadership style

  • Student-led experiences researched, designed and led by student teams

  • Residential life coordinated by a different student team each week

  • Weekly reflection with your faculty mentor provide feedback and chart progress

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Contemplative Living

Time and space to “just be” is highly valued here and we encourage our students to prioritize and nurture their mental, emotional and physical well-being during their time with us. Time is made for contemplative activities such as reading, walking, journaling and connecting with others. Weekly workshops are offered in mindfulness, meditation, yoga, nutrition and cooking. Good, fresh food is a big part of life in Normandy and we eat a sit-down, family style meal at both lunch and dinner prepared by the whole group under the guidance of our in-house chef. 

Highlights include:

  • Time and space to unwind, reflect and "just be"

  • Workshops in meditation and yoga

  • Living the "Norman way" with good, fresh food at the center of life

  • Building leadership and life skills through community and independent living

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Who is this program for?

This program is for any student interested in living in France and being immersed in French history and culture.


We welcome students of all interests and the program encompasses a wide range of subjects including History, European Civilizations, Architecture, Literature, Art History, Politics, Anthropology, Linguistics, and Culinary Arts.  


The program is designed for students interested in building leadership skills, personal development, collaborative learning and living in community.  


Do I need to speak French?

No. Our program is taught entirely in English with optional French language learning

What if I have a lot of French?

Great! You'll have plenty of immersion opportunities and advanced French language classes if you wish

Do I need to be creative?

You do not need to be an artist, just bring an open mind and willingness to participate

Do I need to be outdoorsy?

Outdoor activities are low impact and designed to be enjoyed by everyone