Cactus Worldwide Monthly Blog: November 2013

Welcome to the November edition of the Cactus Worldwide blog! This month we’re bringing you ideas and inspiration for the fast-approaching festive season…

Hello, and welcome to November’s edition of the Cactus Worldwide blog! My name is Ollie, and I am the Product Manager for our agency, Cactus Worldwide. Our team of experienced course advisors are here every day to discuss options with you and help set up a varied range of unique language-learning experiences, all over the globe, throughout the year, for all of our wonderful students.


This month’s blog is aimed at letting you know about some of the best options that we have available for language study over the fast-approaching Christmas period! As the vast majority of the private language schools out there close for a few weeks around this time, it can be difficult to find the right option for a special seasonal getaway – so here are our recommendations.

If you have any questions about anything you read here, please feel free to contact me directly via and I’d be happy to answer any questions.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

English in Brighton with Cactus Language – Christmas 2013

Regent Language Training, one of our partners here in Brighton on the south coast of the U.K., are keeping their doors open during the festive period (closing only for the Bank Holidays on the 25th and 26th of December, and January 1st) – and they are offering a very special package of classes, host family accommodation and activities for any students who would like to spend the festive season in England, and enjoy a unique cultural experience! You can click on the link here for more details, and please feel free to contact us via to check availability, or if you have any questions.


Regent is an academically-focussed language school, which places emphasis on helping students to achieve their goals in terms of English language. As a medium-sized school, students here benefit from a family-feel environment, excellent facilities and large, bright classrooms, and also receive a personalised learning experience where all teachers really get to know each student and are happy to help with any issue.

Also, why not come to Brighton a day or two early, so you can see the traditional ‘Burning The Clocks’ ceremony on December 21st! The event is a winter solstice festival unique to Brighton, created in 1993, and known for its alternative carnival atmosphere. (Image at top of page)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

German in Berlin with Cactus Language – Christmas 2013

Alternatively, why not spend the holiday period in the second-biggest European city, and arguably the must-visit destination of the decade? Everybody seems to be talking about Berlin at the moment – so why not take the opportunity to visit our partners, GLS, for a very special ‘Christmas Culture Special’, and take the time out to experience the best that this incredible city has to offer.

The full seasonal course is priced at a reasonable 950EUR (£819) all inclusive, or 650EUR (£560) without residential accommodation, and the site opens on December 22nd and closes on January 4th 2014. The course attracts students of all shapes and sizes from across the world – between 40 and 80 students each Christmas, made up of solo travellers, couples and small groups – so you can be assured of plenty of company from friendly, like-minded people!


Image: the ‘unofficial logo’ of GLS Berlin, who are based on Kastanienallee.

Here’s the full schedule:

22nd:  Arrival, check-in, plus a traditional 3-course German Christmas dinner at the school
23rd: 4 German lessons, plus a Pergamon Museum visit
24th: A guided walk along the famous Under den Linden boulevard, plus movie night at the school
25th: Christmas market shopping at Gendarmenmarkt, plus an evening organ concert at Konzerthaus Berlin
26th: Day trip to Potsdam, a visit of Park Sans Souci, Neues Palais, plus coffee in town
27th: 4 German lessons, free afternoon, plus ballet (Der Nusskracker) in the evening
28th: Guided day trip to Dresden
29th: Visit to Berlinische Galerie, plus a traditional dinner at Max und Moritz
30th: 4 German lessons, shopping, plus a visit to the Johanna Keimeyer art studio
31st: Guided walk in Treptower Park, plus Opera del Futuro & a NYE party at Radialsystem
1st: Ice-skating, plus an evening concert at Berliner Dom
2nd: 4 German lessons, plus a guided visit to the Topographie des Terrors museum
3rd: 4 German lessons, a guided visit of the Jewish Museum, plus farewell drinks and tapas
4th: Departure


Image: a panoramic view of one of the high-quality studio rooms in the on-site student residence at GLS.

If you like what you see, you can book online here – or feel free to contact us if you have any questions, via!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

European Portuguese with Cactus Language – Christmas 2013

Finally, how about a Christmas trip to Lisbon? Our partners, CIAL, also stay open throughout the festive period, closing only to observe the Bank Holiday on December 25th, and what they offer here isn’t a full package of activities and excursions, but an affordable closed group course for a maximum of 12 people, either at Beginner level or Intermediate (two groups). This makes it much more suitable to the independent traveller, and the cost is very reasonable at £401 for the fortnight, so great value in comparison with the high season.

Eirill Søiland, from Norway, spent 4 weeks with CIAL back in August, and she has been kind enough to provide us with some great photos and a brief personal review of the school, her course, and the surrounding area:


“I did a 4-week Intensive Course at CIAL in Lisbon. I originally wanted to live with a host family, but applied too late for this so did my whole stay in a hostel close to the school, Unreal Hostel. This turned out for the best, as other people from the school also stayed here.

I do not have any Latin language background at all, so found it a bit frustrating to be placed in a Beginners’ class where 5-8 students spoke (almost) fluent Spanish. I felt a bit uncomfortable in this class, so I asked to move, and was placed in a new class which was much better for me.


Together with the language school I had signed up for 10 surfing classes, which were well organised and really fun! The whole experience was really good, and the only thing I would have done differently would be to change my class a bit sooner, as I think I would have learned even more this way. Lisbon is an amazing city and I would love to go back.”

Again, I hope this has been of interest, and may have given you some ideas for a great way to end the year! Although availability tends to be good on seasonal courses until late on, I would still suggest early booking, before those holiday flight prices shoot up.

Any questions, please feel free to contact me directly and I’d be happy to help.

Happy planning! 😉

Best Wishes,


Oliver Donovan
Agency Product Manager

Lyon: The top 5 places to eat

From tartines to seafood to the traditional ‘bouchon’ restaurant, Adrienne Mansard tells us exactly where to go when we get hungry in Lyon…

5. L’Epicerie

The first of two tartine restaurants on this list, L’Epicerie is located on the presqu’ile and is the perfect place to stop off after a day of shopping and practising your French. The restaurant serves a good variety of tartines (open face sandwiches topped with the freshest and most delicious ingredients) and manages to make the simplest ingredients somehow more amazing than you ever thought humanly possible. Order the tomato pesto mozzarella tartine for lunch and a fruit tart for dessert and your concept of a simple meal will change completely. Not only that, but the prices are a bargain in Lyon and they’ll let you nurse your coffee for as long as you need to rest your tired, travelling feet.

2 Rue de la Monnaie, Lyon 69002

4. A la pêche aux moules

If you’re looking for the best seafood in Lyon, this is the place to go. The restaurant is nautically themed and the staff are exceptionally friendly to foreigners and locals alike. While everything on the menu is worth a try, the best item on the menu is the mussels, which come with the sauce of your choice. After ordering, you’ll be given a pot of mussels bigger than your head that you swear you won’t finish. That is, of course, until you taste it, and realize that to leave a drop of this food untouched would be a crime against the French. It is THAT good. If you have trouble deciding which sauce to order, go with the Moules Provencales; you won’t be sorry.

2 Rue Marronniers, Lyon 69002

3. Chez M’man


Let me just say this, there is a stovetop hanging from the ceiling. Let me repeat, there is a stovetop hanging from the ceiling. If that doesn’t spell charming, I’m not sure what does. This little place, located just around the corner from Place Bellecour is as traditionally French as can be and, unlike most restaurants in Lyon, it offers menu options from the differing regions of France so you can try more than just the typical Lyonnaise cuisine if you feel like mixing things up. The restaurant is always lively and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, so much so that you’ll feel like part of the family every time you walk in – as if someone’s “Maman” really is in the kitchen making food for whoever decides to stop by.

4 Rue Marronniers, Lyon 69002

2. La Becquée

This tartine restaurant in Vieux Lyon is the second on our list and is the one you’ll tell all your friends about during your many hours of reminiscing about Lyon. They serve a variety of sweet and savoury tartines, salads, cheese and charcuterie plates that will definitely make you wonder why you don’t just take a leap of faith and move to France for the food and the food alone. Beyond the mouth-watering food, the restaurant is also a history lesson of Lyon with medieval archways and original rock walls from the 14th century. To add to the already charming atmosphere, your food will arrive via dumbwaiter from the upstairs kitchen and, if you’re in the mood for some fun beyond the joys of dining, there are board games available that you can take out and play at your leisure. It’s as if they never want you to leave, and trust me, you won’t want to.

2 Rue Saint Georges, Lyon 69005

1. Aux 24 Colonnes


Lyon is known throughout the world for its “bouchons,” a type of restaurant specific to Lyon serving traditional Lyonnais cooking. The restaurants are small, the energy is warm, and the owners are almost always present and friendly. But there is one that goes above and beyond all the rest in Lyon. Tucked away on a quiet street in Vieux Lyon, Aux 24 Colonnes is by far the best bouchon in town and the local’s best kept secret. The food is simple and delicious and the warmth and generosity of the owner checking in on you throughout your meal is the stuff of French legends. You’ll begin to wonder how a man like him even exists and why you can’t take him home with you when the meal is over. The food is traditional Lyonnaise cuisine and so good that it will actually make you swoon. Trust me, I have swooned here many times, and each time is better than the last. So go there hungry and be prepared for the possibility of a substantial food orgasm that will leave you in a state of bliss that only France can provide.  Also, if you stay there long enough until the bulk of service is over, you might just end up being serenaded by a guitar playing chef relaxing after a hard night’s work. I know, it sounds too French and too good to be true. But I swear, it’s real, and it’s waiting for you in Lyon. (Adrienne is pictured here with a friend enjoying an evening at Aux 24 Colonnes).

10 Rue Trois Maries, Lyon 69005

Cactus offers a variety of French courses in Lyon and in other cities across France.

We also offer language holidays in another 30 languages, in 60 countries and 500 destinations worldwide.