SCHOOLS in Bolton extended the hand of friendship to their European cousins — who experienced real Lancashire hospitality.

Local primary schools Eagley Juniors, Walmsley CE, Harwood, Meadows and Hardy Mill stepped in at the last minute to host a group of French pupils after exchange visit plans for the group of 50 youngsters fell through elsewhere.

And within a day new friendships were established and closer links made between the schools — which could pave the way for future exchange trips.

Children were proud to showcase their school to their new French friends, who during the visit experienced the concept of Forest schools — which is about inspiring learning through outdoor activities — as well as enjoying lessons including drama and art.

They also took a trip to Eagley Infants School and saw the animals there.

Both groups had a chance to try out their modern foreign language skills on each other.

And local children were excited to find out that one day a week, the school in France would shut and all the children would go skiing — but the price to pay was that the school stayed open until 4.30pm everyday.

Kath Wilkinson, head of Eagley Juniors, said: “The children loved showing their visitors around the school, we have exchanged contact details so children can make pen-pals and to establish a closer link between the two schools.

“Our pupils were so eager to help the French children and it was nice to see them playing and sharing together, showing that with children language is not a barrier.”

She added: “Our pupils were really interested to find out the school shuts on Wednesday and the French children go skiing. We showed them what education was like in England.”