Students in our September '21 intake take the leap at the Dune du Pilat (photo courtesy Zichuan Zhou, MBA '23, pictured jumping, second from left)

Wine, Beaches and Light Shows: Our September Intake Converges on Bordeaux

Bordeaux has long been known for velvety wines and stunning architecture—and now, thanks to the efforts of four HEC Paris MBA students, as the place where our September 2021 intake first met.

Forty-five incoming students converged on the UNESCO World Heritage City for a pre-MBA visit. The five-day outing included sunsets over sandy white beaches, a romp on Europe’s tallest sand dune, and a tour of three of the region’s renowned wineries.

It all started when incoming student Megan Disher posed a simple question on the S21 group chat: Would anyone be interested in traveling together just before the start of the MBA?

Positive responses poured in, and three other students – Laury Jacot, Gabriel Morin and Nicholas Zavergiu – volunteered to help with the organization.

Students stand in front of the chateau at a Bordeaux winery

Touring a winery and its château (photo courtesy Zichuan Zhou, MBA ’23)

“I had planned short trips for friends, but never anything like this,” explains Megan, a former lead financial analyst for the U.S. government. “Plus, I had never been to Bordeaux. Gabriel had done a long-term stay in the city. In July, he sent everyone a map showing the city’s best bars, restaurants and coffeehouses.”

In preparation for the daylong tour of the wineries, Laury organized an “Introduction to Wines” tasting for small groups of students. His rented Airbnb, which featured both a sauna and a cinema, became the de-facto evening meeting place.

Photo from the Monet, Renoir… Chagall, Voyages en Méditerranée exhibit

Visiting the “Monet, Renoir, Chagall, Voyages en Méditerranée” light show in Bordeaux (photo courtesy Zichuan Zhou, MBA ’23)

“We came up with a suggested itinerary and organized transportation, but everyone was free to explore,” Megan explains. “I found guide who transported our class to three vineyards around Bordeaux for tours and tastings.  During the day trip to Arcachon, each person chose their own adventure in the coastal town.  Some groups ate oysters on the beach, some visited the ocean, and others took advantage of the biggest dune in Europe.”

With all the Airbnbs located within a 10-minute walk from the city center, the MBAs would also cross each other coming and going into town.

The five-day trip included lunch at a winery

The five-day trip included lunch at a winery (photo courtesy Zichuan Zhou, MBA ’23)

By the end of the trip on August 29, everyone had mixed and mingled, and was ready to meet more of their intake.  “At our pizza party during the Friday check in, I thought, ‘I already know 45 people. I can focus on meeting all the others’,” Megan says.

In October, the MBA Council will host a formal integration weekend for all the 168 HEC Paris MBA students in the S21 intake.

Read about one of the Integration Weekends organized by our MBA student council here.

Please note: Masks have been exceptionally removed for the needs of these photos.