French baguette and chocolate mousse: intergenerational learning

In recent years at ISP, we have been successfully implementing and developing an intergenerational learning program in our French Initiation classes. Our activities focus on interactions between students in Grade 6 to 9 and adults of all ages from the local community, our goal being to share skills, knowledge and experience between the younger and older generations.

Intergenerational projects have considerable benefits for our students: promoting understanding and respect, establishing relationships with the local community, practicing the language of the host country and building self-esteem and satisfaction for all age groups through the learning of new skills. Intergenerational activities that students have recently been involved in have included playing Scrabble with seniors from the Résidence des Ternes in the 17th arrondissement and learning how to play the French "Loto" for La Semaine bleue.

Read the story: students play Scrabble with seniors
Read the story: learning to play French "Loto" for La Semaine bleue

"These kinds of activities are a fun way to learn. The students do something unusual which leaves a mark in their mind and helps them to remember things better... These intergenerational projects are really important to language classes at ISP. It makes students realize that learning a language is a lot more than learning grammar rules and words between the four walls of a school." Bérénice Loiseau, French Teacher

On Thursday, March 16, beginner and intermediate Grade 6-9 French Initiation students embarked on a new intergenerational experience by going to meet Mr Yann Desgranges, owner of the Maison Desgranges bakery in Passy. Having learned about French food in class and practiced their French vocabulary through role plays, the students moved beyond the classroom to find out how a traditional French baguette is made, with a few secrets from Mr Desgranges himself.

ISP students visit Maison Desgranges

ISP students visit Maison Desgranges

Back in class, the Grade 7 students wanted to share their experience with the younger Grade 6 students by showing them how to make chocolate mousse. It was a funny, enjoyable lesson about a French culinary speciality. This is just one of the ways in which ISP students promote a culture of service learning.

French Initiation students make chocolate mousse

French teachers working in a team: l'union fait la force

"Intergenerational activities are good for everyone! You can interact with people of different ages, and remember that we're all humans. We might be from different times, we might not have been born in the same year, but we can speak with each other and have fun! I would definitely do this again." Jillian, Grade 6

I am certain that our intergenerational programs can have a positive impact and influence on our students' life and even on their future careers. The students wrote about their latest intergenerational experience and the winning articles are included below.

Monica Devos
French Teacher

We went to a French boulangerie last Thursday and I had a great time! When we first got there, the first thing I noticed was how delicious everything looked. Chocolates and pastries and breads of all shapes and sizes! We were taken down to the kitchen to learn how to make baguettes. They showed us how to make baguettes step by step.

First he put the flour in the machine. The machine processed the flour and brought it out the other end. The flour was put in a bucket to be made into dough. Then the man added in a few ingredients to make it more than just flour. There was the dough for the baguettes.

ISP visit Maison Desgranges

Next he rolled out the baguette dough and shaped it into long rectangles. They were cut decoratively. Finally he put the baguettes in the special oven and told us about the baguettes. Did you know that the more holes there are in the center of a baguette, the better? After all of that, we talked and went to the upper floor to buy some treats.

I had a great time at the boulangerie. I thought it was exciting to get out of the classroom and explore a little. I would recommend any language class do this to improve their language and have some well-deserved fun. It was interesting to learn all about baguettes and the people there were friendly.

Jillian, Grade 6

On Thursday, March 16, we went to the Desgranges boulangerie. It was fun and we also learned a lot! Our trip was mainly focused on the baguette and its history.

The Desgranges boulangerie was founded in 1998 by Monsieur Desgranges. Ever since then, they have been creating delicious chocolates, pastries, and baguettes. Their special baguette is called the Passy Passion. The bakery is famous abroad and you can find out more about them online.

The bakery is so popular that they make 800 baguettes a day, plus 1000 traditional baguettes, including the Passy Passion. They also make many pastries, cakes, and chocolates, however, the baguette is their main product. To make a baguette, you use water, flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. The baguette was created in the early 1800s when the Austrian officer August Zang brought over the first steam oven.

Baguettes are good for you because they are grains and provide you with nutrients. However, they are fattening when you eat too much if them. There are multiple types of baguettes, such as the normal baguette, the traditional baguette, baguettes with cereal, baguettes with raisins and baguettes with chocolate.

Baguettes are very tasty warm, fresh out of the oven, because they are made with virtually no preservatives. However, this isn't good because the next day, they will be almost as hard as rock. But who could pass up a tasty baguette for one whole day?

ISP visit Maison Desgranges

Desgranges make their baguettes by stirring everything up together in a machine, then placing the balls of dough in a machine, which twists and turns them so that they become long. They stretch them out and place the baguettes in the oven. Traditional baguettes are cooked longer than normal baguettes. To see if a baguette is good, you can cut it open and see if it has holes in it. That means it is good.

Desgranges was founded by the father of the man who was showing us around, Monsieur Desgranges. Now, Desgranges has five boulangeries/patisseries in Paris.

When we visited the boulangerie, we went down a steep, slippery staircase to the basement, where they made the baguettes. We saw the materials being mixed together, the dough stretched, and put into a machine. From there, we saw a worker cutting the lines in the baguettes. It was interesting to finally know how the split sections were made, but I didn't know that it was that easy to make the baguette look like that. Finally, we saw the baguettes put on a board and rolled into the oven. They were baked for approximately 15 minutes, higher or lower depending on what you wanted. The final product was a delicious baguette!

ISP visit Maison Desgranges

One way to prove that baguettes really are delicious is that in the 1900s, French people would eat three per day, per person! Nowadays, they only eat about half a baguette. Baguettes really are tasty! And how do you tell if a baguette is good without cutting it open? Just smell it! Baguettes really do smell good when they are good! But is there such a thing as a bad baguette? I don't think so!

A baguette is about 55 to 65 centimeters in length. And why do you think they are long and skinny? Why not fat and short? Who do you think actually made them that way? Believe it or not, it was Napoleon. He wanted it that way so his soldiers could carry it around, and still be able to eat it with easy accessibility.

We also had an experience to meet people from the local community. We met Monsieur Desgranges and he taught us a lot about baking. It was great to learn about how other people's lives work, and some new French words! We also learned how to pronounce words, with French people ordering baguettes and other scrumptious pastries.

Desgranges also makes pastries such as pains au chocolat, croissants, beignets, chouquettes, éclairs, and many other delectable pastries. They also make an assorted variety of chocolates, from chocolates carved into ducks, and others round Easter eggs. They are all different and they all taste magnificent! Come to the Desgranges boulangerie and try them for yourself, and I'm sure that you would agree with me.

Caitlin, Grade 6

La semaine dernière, nous avons visité la boulangerie Desgranges. Nous avons parlé avec M. Desgranges, le propriétaire de la boulangerie. La boulangerie a été crée en 1988 par le père de M. Desgranges. Ils ont cinq boutiques à Paris.

Comment faire une baguette


  • Farine
  • L'eau
  • Sel
  • Sucre

Étapes de préparation:

  1. Mixez la farine et l'eau.
  2. Coupez la pâte.
  3. Ajoutez le sel et le sucre.
  4. Mettez dans le four chaud.
  5. Attendez 15 minutes.
  6. Retirez la baguette du four.
  7. Voilà, c'est fini!

J'ai beaucoup aimé la visite à la boulangerie Desgranges.

Amy, Grade 6

La classe de français des années 6 et 7 est allée à la boulangerie Desgranges. Nous avons appris comment faire la baguette et l'histoire de la boulangerie. Nous avons rencontré le propriétaire de la boulangerie et avons posé beaucoup de questions. En outre, après que nous avons appris comment ils font leur pain, nous avons goûté quelques délicieuses pâtisseries. C'était une expérience formidable et nous avons mis en pratique nos connaissances apprises en classe, dans la vie courante.

Anastasia, Grade 6