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L’école d’Hermeray

The school’s “carnaval” in March 1996 gave all the children the chance to dress up, and then sat them down in this grange. I can make out Daphné and Tom from among ours.

Nick and Tom started at l’école d’Hermeray in January 1994, when Sunshine and I moved to Le Tahu in the village of Hermeray, about  75km southwest of Paris in the Forêt de Rambouillet.

Sunshine and I had been living separately in Paris, but moved back in together because we were close to bankrupt and trying to conserve precious and limited financial resources. Not what you’d call a reconciliation. Which is part of why Sunshine moved out again in April or May of the same year, to an apartment in the nearby town of Epernon.

Daphné and Alban started at the school in September 1994, just nine months after Nick and Tom, when they arrived at Le Tahu with Marie-Hélène. The school wasn’t half bad. It was a quaint little village school, in a quaint little village. The children were young enough, and they started at the school sufficiently close together in time, that there was no problem of the earlier starters lording it over the later.

That short gallery reveals the surprising breadth of activities that even a small village school offers its pupils in France.

L’école d’Hermeray attended “la parade des rois mages” in Rambouillet just before Christmas in 1996, and sang for those attending. Alban is front left, Daphné and Tom in front, and Madame Vidal top center. I think that this was the first time that I saw Tom sing in front of people. He took to it like a duck to water.

The French put a lot of money into educating their children, and not just in the three “r”s. The ski trips and the sea trips were heavily subsidized in various complementary ways so as to permit all of the schoolchildren who really wanted to go on them to do so. Looking back on the various activities our children enjoyed at l’Ecole d’Hermeray at nominal cost, it is very depressing to see how little  schools in California, even the better schools, offer their children unless the parents pay for it through the nose. Here in California, we’ve lost touch with our natural human priorities.

All of the children left l’école d’Hermeray in June 1997, Daphné and Alban to move to Happy Valley School in Santa Cruz, California, and Nick and Tom to return to the schools near their mother’s apartment in the 14th arrondissement in Paris. The courts had split us up, and we had too much on our minds at the time to regret the little village school we left behind. But now I do. It was a very easy place for our children, who were all in quite a difficult situation, and the teachers and Madame Vidal, Directrice, did a lot for them.