BAGUETTES, brioches and all sorts of patisserie – the French are of course experts in all aspects of baking.

So when visitors from France arrived in Leigh a visit to the town's award winning family bakery Waterfields was a definite must.

It was just one part of a week of exchange activities between Bedford High School and their twin – the Jean Jacques Rousseau school, located in Thonon-les-bains by Lake Geneva in eastern France.

Students from the school have seen Manchester United’s Stadium, the Liverpool Albert Dock and other places in the region. But inevitably a visit to the bakery with time for a bit of chocolate tasting was plus agréable.

Guided around the Manchester Road bakery by Albert and Richard Waterfield, the exchange students saw how the company’s famous pies and Eccles Cakes are made. They got a chance to try out icing and cake making for themselves and they even had a brief spell in the minus 18 degrees freezer.

Student Antonie Eudes said: “This was my first ever visit to a factory and it was very interesting and fun. This is why I like exchange trips.”

Head of modern foreign languages at Bedford, Gabriel Caldwell, said: “It’s been great to see how well the pupils embraced each others’ cultures, and how many have now made friends for life.

"I’m very grateful to Albert Waterfield and his son for a superb interactive tour of their factory as part of an overwhelmingly successful week.”

The schools’ partnership began last year and the pupils are now working on several joint projects. The newly started exchange programme saw 23 Bedford High School pupils playing host to their newly found French correspondents.

A packed week of activities for the Jean Jacques Rousseau pupils included trips to Liverpool to see the Tate Gallery and the Beatles Museum. The pupils also sampled the sights of Manchester including visits to Salford Quays and the Museum of Science and Industry.

“There were a lot of tears when our friends had to say au revoir,” said Mr Caldwell.

“It shows how well we all got on. But Bedford pupils are already looking forward to the return visit to France in November.”