French Learning Scenario:
Tour de France

Authors: Dorothy Cox & Leah Sequeira
Level: Intermediate

In this unit, students learn about the provinces of France, thoroughly researching one of them. They write a persuasive argument to an imaginary committee who will be choosing the route for the next Tour de France. Their task is to convince the committee to include their town and province in the route. After the committee chooses the top 4 towns/provinces, the class plays the Tour des provinces game (see Activity Set 3) to reinforce what has been learned.

ACTIVITY SET 1: Introduction to the Tour de France
To activate learners’ background knowledge about the Tour de France, students watch several segments of videotaped footage from television coverage of the event. Afterwards, classmates share what they know about the Tour. (Many students are avid cyclists and “experts” on the topic, and most others know something about the race thanks to Lance Armstrong.) Next, students check the official Tour de France Web site (see Resources for URL) to discover the race’s route in years past. Each group looks up a different year and records and shares the names of the regions through which the racers passed.

ACTIVITY SET 2: Province Proposals
In order to prepare for their persuasive arguments on why the committee should route the Tour through their region, pairs of students choose one of the 22 French provinces to study. (There should be no duplications.) Each pair collects information from library sources and the Internet in order to prepare a class presentation that includes the following six categories: terrain, weather, accommodations, food, things to do, and sites to see. Each presentation needs to contain the same assigned categories. Teams develop their proposal in French in the form of a persuasive argument that they present orally to the “committee”—the other students. To help classmates as they listen to the presentation, each team provides a handout for note-taking with a list of topics to be covered and a short list of key vocabulary words that may be unfamiliar. Each “proposal” includes information vital in attracting the committee’s attention: the benefits to tourism, availability of accommodations, and sources of revenue such as businesses located in that province that could sponsor the race. The oral presentations allow students to show their creativity as they deliver their message using music, poetry, colorful visual aids, realia, or PowerPoint slide shows and by dressing professionally and perhaps even preparing regional food as a form of “persuasion.”

ACTIVITY SET 3: Determining the Tour’s Route
When it is time for the committee to hear proposals, a large map of France is taped to the board so the students may identify their city and province as they make their oral presentation in French. The “committee” (other students) takes notes on the handout provided. Later, these notes will help them ask relevant questions and rank their preferences. After each presentation, each team of “committee members” is required to ask one follow-up question in French for clarification; the presenting pairs answer spontaneously. Once all presentations have been made, students rank the proposals, and the top four sites are chosen to be included in the route for the Tour de France. In addition to their rankings, teams give a written justification for their top four choices by listing pros and noting potential cons on their ballots. (The written justification requires students to use their higher level thinking skills to come to a decision.) Once the votes are counted and the sites have been determined, students draw the route between the selected sites on the large classroom map with a total of five stops including Paris as the finish.

ACTIVITY SET 4: Tour des provinces
To reinforce what students have learned about the various French provinces, they participate in their own Tour des provinces, a game (ideally played outside) in which they complete a learning activity at each station along the route. Each activity is based on information given in the student presentations and is described below.

To begin, the teacher identifies five learning stations that represent Paris and the four other stops chosen for the Tour, and students make signs to identify the stops. The game takes place over a period of four days. On day one, students go from station one to station two; the winning pair of this leg of the race gets to wear the maillot vert (green T-shirt) during the second leg. On the second day, students go from station two to station three with the winners that day receiving the green T-shirts during the third leg, etc., through day four. On day four, however, the overall winners are awarded the coveted maillots jaunes (yellow T-shirts) worn by the winner of the Tour. The activities for the four days are as follows:

Day 1: Map Puzzle
Students are provided a copy of the map of France with the provinces outlined, one per team. They have three minutes to study the map as a team. They then cut apart their maps on the province borders and put the pieces in an envelope. (Maps last longer if they are laminated before students cut them apart.) At station one, students wait for the signal to start and then open their envelope and put the puzzle together. When they have finished, they run to station two where the winners are awarded the green T-shirts.

Day 2: Map Puzzle and Matching Province to Fact
In order to create the Matching Province to Fact game, prepare a list of provinces studied and one distinguishing fact about each one. Photocopy the list (one per student pair), separate the provinces from the facts (cut them apart), and put the separated pieces into envelopes for the teams. When the signal is given at station two, students begin by repeating the Map Puzzle game from Day One. Once they have completed the map, they return the pieces to the envelope and give it to the teacher in exchange for the envelope with the Matching Provinces to Fact game. The students match each province with its fact, then they run to station three. The teacher checks their work. If it is not correct, the team is disqualified. The winners for the day are awarded the green T-shirts.

Day 3: Map Puzzle, Matching Province to Fact, and Categories
In order to create the Categories game, the teacher chooses any six of the presented provinces to use in creating a chart which is photocopied for each group. On the chart, the selected provinces are listed across the top, and six categories (terrain, weather, accommodation, food, things to do, things to see) are listed on the vertical axis. At station three, at the signal, students again play the Map Puzzle game, returning the pieces to the teacher in exchange for the Matching Provinces to Fact game as on Day Two. When they have matched provinces to facts, they return those pieces to the envelope and the envelope to the teacher in exchange for the Categories game chart. Since this is a timed activity, the teacher can assign one or two students to help check answers.
On the chart, students are required to fill in one piece of information for each province, but they must not repeat categories. For example, if they complete the terrain category for les Alpes, they may not complete the same category for any of the other five provinces listed. They have only six answers total on their completed sheet, one per province. When they finish, they turn in their chart to the teacher and run to station four. If their work is incorrect, the team is disqualified. The winners for the day are awarded the green T-shirts.

Day 4: All in One
In order to create the All in One game, the teacher provides each team with an unlabeled map of France with the provinces outlined. At station four, at the signal, the teams label each province studied and write one identifying fact that they learned about it. The teacher may specify from which category the facts must come or may allow students to select any fact that they remember. When they have completed the map, they turn it in and sprint for “Paris.” Their work is checked, and if it is incorrect, the team is disqualified. The winners for the day will be awarded the green T-shirts, and the overall winners the yellow T-shirts. A picture of the winners and the other participants is taken and sent to local news media or the school newspaper.

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Targeted Standards

  • Communication: Interpersonal, Interpretative, & Presentational Modes
  • Cultures: Practices & Perspectives, Products & Perspectives
  • Connections: Access to Information, Other Subject Areas
  • Comparisons: Concept of Culture
  • Communities: Within & Beyond the School Setting, Personal Enrichment & Career Development

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  • Tourism information books about France, Michelin guides
  • Travel videos about France
  • Internet access for research of provinces
  • Map of France showing provinces
  • Supplies for activities: photocopies of maps, envelopes, list of facts from presentations, charts, etc.
  • Green and yellow T-shirts to award to the winners

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Reflections on How the Standards Are Met

Communication: Interpersonal mode is used in group work as students create their proposals. Interpretive mode is used in research. Presentational mode is used in the proposal presented for the committee.

Cultures: Students learn about the practices, products, and perspectives of the people and places they study related to their provinces.

: Access to information in French allows students to learn about the history of their province and learn the geography of France.

: Students compare their culture to the culture of the province they research and compare the cultures of the various provinces.

: Students use French to participate in cultural activities such as cooking and music representing the different provinces of France.

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Expansion Ideas

  • At the conclusion of the Tour des provinces race, the students should be very familiar with the provinces of France. A “Jeopardy” game could be created including all of the information learned in preparation for a unit test.
  • Have a “Food Day” where the students bring food representing the provinces they have studied.

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Clemente, M. (1997). The riches of France: A shopping and touring guide to the French provinces. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Baily,R. & Ardagh, Jr. (Eds.). (1998). DK eyewitness travel guides: France. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.

Jeux Nathan. France. Jigsaw puzzle, découpé par départment [illustrateur Sylvie Rainaut]. Gentilly, France: Author

Lauret, J. C. (1972). Les fêtes à travers la France. Paris: Balland.

Merienne, P. (1999). Atlas des régions de France. Rennes, France: Editions Ouest-France.

Michelin Tyre. (1991). France. Middlesex, MA: Author.
Other editions (years) of this tour guide are available.

Sturges, J. (1993). Discovering France. Crestwood House, NY: Zoë Books Limited.


NOTE: These Internet resources may have changed since publication or no longer be available. Active links should be carefully screened before recommending to students.