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Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

Pinot la Pantomime

East of England

by Sarah Schechter, Routes East

Wow what a day we had!!!

To celebrate stage 3 of the Tour de France starting in Cambridge we decided to have a Tour de France musical – could we really pull it off?!?

The hugely talented Marie Atallah had written a musical in French called Pinot la Pantomime about a Russian illegal immigrant in Paris who dreams of one day winning the Tour de France – perfect!  Just what we needed…

We found 6 local schools who were brave enough to jump into the unknown with us and sent them all the teaching materials and DVDs prepared by Marie and they started practising the songs and getting to grips with the acting, so that we could all get together on 11th July and with the help of the actors as mentors put together a performance for the public at the end of the day.

Friday, July 11 dawned bright and sunny with nearly 100 pupils from Coleridge Community College, Ernulf Academy, Jack Hunt School, Parkside Community College, Sawtry Community College and Thomas Clarkson Academy converging on Anglia Ruskin University, not knowing what to expect.

The day kicked off with a lively, fun performance from the professional actors, – Marie Atallah’s troupe –  showing how it could be done with Year 5 from the School next door, St Matthew’s Primary School, who’d been learning French for one year, joining us in the Mumford Theatre.

Each school group then went off with the mentors to practise their scenes: work on the choreography, acting and singing. This was really a highlight of the whole experience for the pupils, who said the actors were amazing and great fun to work with.

Everyone then gathered back in the Mumford Theatre for the final performance of the day, starring the KS3 pupils. They were phenomenal!!! All the hard work had paid off and they really pulled it off. There was some extraordinary talent there.

In terms of feedback, the pupils said they’d had an amazing day – and they want to do it again next year…! Well, I suppose the Tour de France does happen every year, doesn’t it? Even if it doesn’t usually make it to Cambridge… Hmmm

But what of the language learning element? Well, to quote two of the Jack Hunt pupils, “I think it’s a great idea to learn French as you’re singing” and “It’ll help me in French because I learnt new vocabulary and the songs stay in your head so you remember them”

Thank you to everyone involved for making this a brilliant day (to see who they are, watch the credits at the end of the video)

What’s more, we collected nearly £50 on the day for the official Tour de France charity, Marie Curie Cancer Care  – there’s still time to donate on the official website:,

To get a little flavour of the day (beautifully captured by our student film makers, Brother Bear) watch the video and let us know what you think: