23 Nov 2022  |  Anita Aleksandrova

The ESTEEM French Adventure saw a team of 16 young adults and staff take to the French Pyrenees for a week. Anita sat down with two of the young adult hikers Sophie and Chris, to reflect on the epic adventure!  

“Being able to go abroad was the best part for me. I’ve never been able to have that opportunity before.”


French Hike

Our trip to Toulouse, France started from Gatwick airport. We arrived at around 1am at our accommodation where the deep blue sky and its countless stars greeted us. After some much-needed sleep, the next day’s activities kicked off with the rippling waves of the lake in Foix. We couldn’t resist the alluring waters and went swimming and stone skipping. 

“We found these little firebugs, I’d never seen anything like it before! It was really cool because it was something that we’d never seen in the UK. It’s made me appreciate nature a lot more than I did before, giving me a different perspective on things that we don’t know about.”

Our journey into nature was followed by a cultural trip to Carcassonne- a medieval village with colourful markets, a citadel, and watchtowers.

On Sunday we split into 2 teams – beginners and advanced hikers. Activities included a walk around an ancient castle ruin, a stop-off at a fountain, and an epic 10K hike for the advanced group.  

“Learning about a different culture was also great. It was nice to see how people in another country live and see the different scenery, something you don’t get in the UK!”


After the campfire, the team turned in for the night, destined for a magnificent night’s sleep, right guys?

On Monday everyone agreed on having a chilled day and exploring the local area and its mysterious cave.

The day after, the group climbed up to the top of the mountain where hot springs were awaiting.

“I took in nature and I was proud that we all made it to the top.”


As every fairy tale comes to an end, this one does too.  Looking back on the adventure this is what Chris and Sophie had to say: 

“My highlight is that I was given an opportunity to escape from everything and have some time out, it was a chance to re-evaluate my life and figure out my next steps”


“I learned more about myself and about my capability to do life, particularly in how I can adapt to change! Being brought out of my comfort zone in a completely different place forced me to think, feel and live differently. Even though it was stressful at times, being with other people who are going through similar things made it so much easier. Having people who understand where you’re coming from and how to help make a big difference”


“It was so peaceful out there that it was hard to come back. I would definitely repeat this journey if I can!”


Thank you to the following people and organizations who made this year’s hike possible! 

  • Our Just Giving Supporters:
    • Tommy, Mona & Bill 
    • Helen Whittle 
    • Diane 
    • Mari Syrad 
    • Mona Sorensen
    • Jody 
    • MJ2 

  • Sean Baldwin and the fantastic FireCo team

  • Tabitha, Stu, Charlotte and all the fabulous folks at Focus Group

  • Alex Bremner and the wonderful Welly Cricket Team

  • Vanessa and the sensational Soul of the City Choir

  • Ray and the awesome Equal Footings Team
  • Our Pub Quiz Supporters:
    • Rach Batten;
    • Rosie Cheeks 
    • Siobhan O’Dowd 
    • Laura Clarke
    • Emma Lacey
    • Virginia Sampaio
    • James Fletcher 
    • Peter Latham 
    • Paul Hudson
    • Adam Ransom
    • Emma Edwards
    • Andy Greensmith
    • Rob Kaleta
    • Jess Beales
    • Ted Vickers
    • Lois Lamb
    • Lottie Greer
    • Hannah Cowan