TRES bon! That’s Alex Gao and Matthew Cavaliere from Bolton School, who tasted sweet success at the French Spelling Bee finals.

The boys were placed second and fourth in the competition, which is an even more challenging take on the popular English Spelling Bee craze.

A total of 61,493 youngsters from 496 schools across the country took part in this year’s competition and the two won through class, school and regional heats to reach the national final of the French category, held at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

The competition, which is sponsored by the European Commission and Vocab Express, involves year seven pupils competing to correctly translate and spell the most number of words in French.

Alex, aged 12, from Haslingden, said: “I was very happy with my win and proud of my achievement. I also really enjoyed exploring Cambridge with my school and going punting. This experience has inspired me to learn other languages.”

Matthew, aged 11, from Bradshaw, added: “It was a hard competition but the spelling of the French words just seemed to come naturally to me. I was delighted to come second.”

Prizes were presented by John Evans from the European Commission, Cambridge deputy mayor Cllr Robert Dryden, Justin Sycamore, from Vocab Express, and Pat Dalby, from Alliance Française Cambridge.

The competition was the brainchild of Cambridge teacher Jane Driver and has been extended across England and Wales by Routes into Languages, a HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) funded programmes.