Edward Hopper's Automat shows a woman in 1920s clothes sitting in a café at night staring at a cup of coffee. Edward Hopper, Automat, 1927.

Edward Hopper Winners Lycée B1

Posted by Speakeasy News > Wednesday 26 April 2023 > Pedagogy

We received thousands and thousands of fabulous entries to our Edward Hopper creative-writing contest. Here are our favourite B1-level texts from lycée students.

And the winners are, in no particular order:

Romane, Tristan, Inès and Clara from Mme Crabos’s class, Institut Saint Dominique, Pau
Luka and Noé from Mme Traista’s class, Lycée de Cornouaille, Quimper
Lily  from Mme Doyen Hillion’s class, Lycée La Martinière Diderot, Lyon
Julie, Inès and Margaux from Mme Catins’s class, Lycée Sacré-Cœur, Aix-en-Provence
Sarah from Mme McCourt’s class, Lycée Lucie Aubrac, Courbevoie
Violette from Miss Pereira’s class, Lycée Paul Sabatier, Carcassonne
Chiara from Mrs Bales’s class, Ecole Diagonale, Boulogne-Billancourt
Elisa and Kathleen from Mme Michaux’s class, Lycée Blaise Pascal, Charbonnières-les-Bains

Scroll down to discover their amazing texts!

Romane, Tristan, Inès and Clara from Mme Crabos’s class, Institut Saint Dominique, Pau

Automat, 1927

7.30pm. Like every night, at the same time, the door opens. The widow with the hat enters and sits down at the back of coffee shop near the window. I prepare her coffee, an iced latte. Cold just like her. She stares at the empty chair in front of her, hoping her husband will come back. Since the drama, she is emotionless. Without the man of her life, she no longer lives, she survives. To keep his memory alive, daily, I replace the roses in the vase in which her husband would deposit them. I'm sad for her and I would like to show her my support. I’ve been wondering for a while now how to approach her. Finally, I bring her her coffee and I sit down; surprised, she lifts up her head: “All my condolences,” I end up saying. She looks at me for a moment, then takes a sip, as if to give her strength. At last, she looks me in the eye, and starts talking to me about him. We talk for a long time, and I understand how unimaginable her pain is. What’s more, since the tragedy, she has been doing everything the same way every day, mechanically: she has become an automated woman.

Luka and Noé from Mme Traista’s class, Lycée de Cornouaille, Quimper

 Seven A.M., 1948

The Forest Next to my House

One day in March 1945, a spring day, I woke up at 7 am and I saw a wolf in the forest next to my house. Usually, in this forest, there aren't any wild animals but, this time, there was a wolf. I was watching it from my kitchen window and I noticed it was probably hurt or tired because it was breathing hard and moving slowly. It was sprawled on the ground, resting. I paid it no more attention, and I went back to my activities.

The day after, the wolf was still there and, this time, I decided to go see it. Before going outside, I took a bottle of water and a piece of bread. I was walking towards it, with the bread and the water in my hands, when it looked up. I stopped walking and kept still. It stared at me. I didn’t move until it rested its head. I approached very slowly, it was not scared by me. When I reached it, I gave him the bread and the water. I noticed it was a female and that she was pregnant.

After this discovery, I built a shelter for her and I took care of her. Until the day when she gave birth to 3 cubs. They left the shelter to live their lives in the forest.

And from time to time, the wolf comes to see me at the shelter which is still intact. I give her bread for her and her cubs and then she goes back in the forest.

One year later, the forest next to my house became a protected habitat for wolves. A dozen wolves live in the forest and as the years go by, this number will increase.

Lily from Mme Doyen Hillion’s class, Lycée La Martinière Diderot, Lyon

Sunlight in a Cafeteria, 1958

(The person talking is the man.)

12 years… I’ve worked in this office for twelve years and I’ve never complained about anything! But today I’ve had it! Accountant… what a silly job…! four years of college, diplomas, hundreds of hours working, all this to sit everyday behind a desk! I’ve had enough of always being bored. Enough of these stupid people, always judging you, watching you, telling you what to do. I’ve had enough of this boss, enough rules! Enough hypocrisy… I mean, having your colleagues ask your boss not to promote you… it’s just wrong! Accountant… who would even want to do that job? I certainly wouldn’t… yet here I am, moping alone in this diner, talking towards my office through this window… this woman over there must think I’m insane! I just wanted to be a painter! To paint people like her… Hollywood stars. Paint America! salt and pepper shakers, diners, plastic chairs…

I just must walk out that door, cross this street, face my boss and tell him I don’t want to work here anymore… what a crazy thought! I love it! such a bright horizon! Goodbye, I’m leaving! I won’t be trapped here anymore, I’m off to paint the wild world !

Julie, Inès and Margaux from Mme Catins’s class, Lycée Sacré-Cœur, Aix-en-Provence 

Rooms by the Sea, 1951

The Best Memory

I’m here,
I’m where it all began,

This room is my fondest memory,
This room is my worst memory,
This room is beautiful,
This room is ugly,
It’s my room,

Here the decoration is of bad taste,
Here is empty and sad,
Hear the light is too strong,
Here it’s all white and blue,
It’s my room,

I can see the sea,
I can see that the sea represents my emotions,

But I like this
But it is the best feeling,
But the sea is my safe place,
But here I feel free and alive,
From this room, I can listen to the sea,
From this room, I am soothed,

Hear the decoration is of good taste,
Here is full and joyful,
Here the light is very beautiful,
Here it’s colorful,
It’s my room,

This room is just perfect,
This room is very big,
This room is simply,
This room is for me,
It’s my room,

This place is my place where I stay every day,
This place is supposed to be a place of happiness,

Because I love this room,
Thanks to this room, my refocused myself,
Because it’s a very good choice,
Thanks to this choice I realize how lucky I am.

This memory is to understand how lucky WE are.

Sarah from Mme McCourt’s class, Lycée Lucie Aubrac, Courbevoie

Automat, 1927

Jane used to come frequently in the diner down her street. She would sit down at the same table every day, near the yellow radiator, with her beautiful yellow hat on her head and order the same coffee with a piece of strawberry cake. In this diner Jane used to isolate and relax from her long day of work. Usually, the diner was full of customers, so she came at night when New York started to settle down. She liked to completely feel alone since there were no waiters, she requested her food from the vending machine and ate her food peacefully. Jane liked to dissociate; she could hear her own thoughts calmly.

On a Monday evening, it was a rainy evening, everyone in the city was exhausted, the young woman asked for her everyday order to the automat. She opened the small door to reach for her strawberry cake and saw a face looking at her. It was a man, smiling at her, he looked handsome and friendly. Even though she saw him for a split second, she guessed he was a few years older than her. She drank her coffee at her table next to the yellow radiator and went to her apartment.

The next day she came earlier hoping to talk to the mysterious man in the kitchens, no one was behind her food. She had thought of that man all day, she felt curious about him. Generally, she never pays much attention to strangers around her but this one intrigued her. She knew that she needed to meet him. Jane came earlier to the diner when it was still full; she went ahead and ordered her usual piece of cake. On the frosting of the cake was a note saying “Hi, yellow-hat lady…” She looked behind the wall but there was no one, she smiled, sat down, ate and headed home.

It was now Thursday, Jane left work, she was excited, hoping to meet that mysterious cook. Once in the diner she looked through the boxes where the food came out and her eyes met with the man she had been looking forward to seeing. He disappeared suddenly to her surprise, then a door she had never noticed before opened. A tall, charming boy approached her and said “Hi, do you want to go grab a coffee?”

Violette from Miss Pereira’s class, Lycée Paul Sabatier, Carcassonne

New York Interior, 1921

For Honor

It was time, it was time for her to take her courage and walk through that door. Behind it, was a long alley leading to an altar where a man was waiting for her. She had to take the plunge, she had to cross this white carpet in front of these dozens of people staring at the magnificent dress she was wearing. In a few minutes she would find herself married. Married to a man she didn’t know and whom she had never wanted. The clock was ringing. It was too late to turn back. The violins announced the beginning of the ceremony. She was alone in her room, wiping away the last tears that still flowed down her cheeks. Her father was no longer there to accompany her, she would face this ordeal alone. She got up from her bed and opened the door shyly. The melody changed. Heads slowly turned on the bride. She walked down the middle of the aisle, dozens of eyes on her. She looked up and saw him, the one with whom she would have to share her life from now on. An elegant man who would save her family from the crisis. The vows were exchanged, this famous sentence was pronounced. Here they are now married to combine families with opposite destinies. They are now married for honor.

Chiara from Mrs Bales’s class, Ecole Diagonale, Boulogne-Billancourt

Morning Sun, 1952

The sun is coming up and today and Emma can’t get up. She sits on her bed and looks out the window at the rising day, the rooftops of her neighborhood and the blue sky.

Yesterday, Emma lost her grandmother Teresa. She thinks of all the things she learned from her, all the time she spent with her, never imagining that one day the joy of having her by her side would end

She should smile when she thinks of those moments when Teresa would tell her stories, sing Italian songs, teach her to knit or bake her delicious chocolate and cream cake.

But it is certainly still too early for that… Today, she can’t fight the sadness of having lost the one who took care of her when she was little, and to whom she confided when she grew up.

This morning, Emma feels very alone. She hears Teresa say that when she dies, she would still be there in spirit

Emma wants to believe this and prolongs the moment when she can only think of the one who has left her and whom she loves dearly.

Elisa and Kathleen from Mme Michaux’s class, Lycée Blaise Pascal, Charbonnières-les-Bains

New York Movie, 1939

"Where shall I go? What shall I do?" whined Scarlett, to which Rhett replied: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

What a soppy movie! She will probably end up alone anyhow … She makes me think of the usherette I saw when I entered the cinema. How lonely she looked! She must feel bored always seeing the same movie. My wife has the same look when she mulls over her life. Does that mean I bore her? I should probably take better care of her, we definitely drifted apart over the years. I remember we used to read books together in bed. She was always the one who chose them and how funny they were! Never ordinary, but delightfully funny! She was never an ordinary woman: for our wedding, she demanded we went to India because she believed a sari would make her look her best. Now, we are both old, and there is no more fun. But when I see this pretty woman, so lonely ... By Jove! I have a wife that I love and, tomorrow, I can still choose a book and read it to her, like in the old days!

"After all, tomorrow is another day."

Olivia from Mme Bédolis’s class, Lycée Jean Vilar, Villeneuve-les-Avignon

Room in New York, 1932

Suddenly, the memories are back.  Now, I remember a huge fight with my husband when I announced I was signing up for college. Back from work, he sat at the table and watched me cook. Like every other night for… Well, I don’t know … We were eating and just when he was taking a bite, I said that I was starting my studies again.

He said one word, as if it was the end of the discussion… “No.”

I looked at him, in the eyes and said I wasn’t asking for his permission.

The biggest argument of my life started. For him, I belonged to the kitchen, he could provide for us…  He wasn’t even listening to my arguments. The fact that I wanted to be independent, that I needed to be useful… For him, all of this was nothing.

I finally went to the living room, and I sat, thinking. I don’t really know how long. When I finally raised my head, I saw him, reading his paper.

He didn’t’ care…  At that precise moment, I realized that he wasn’t the man I used to love, and the life I wanted.

Tomorrow, I’m packing, and I’m going to sign up for college.

Room in New York, 1932 A couple seen through a window at night. He is reading the newspaper, she is idly touching the keys of a piano.
Room in New York, 1932

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