Sixth Form History Trip to Paris

Over February Half-term, a group of Upper Sixth pupils travelled to Paris with Mr Spencer and Mr McFarland to spend four days visiting the sites of the French Revolution and Napoleonic era.

Having arrived by Eurostar, we spent our initial half-day visiting the Expiatory Chapel (where the bodies of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were taken from after the Bourbon restoration) and Sacre-Coeur which, whilst beyond our A-Level time frame, was usefully put into context by both teachers as a mark of conservative Christian values, built at the end of a highly tumultuous century in French history. The next day took an Ancien Régime theme, beginning with the Palace of Versailles and finishing with the Louvre (with a fitting McDonald’s for most of the students in between). The third day saw a visit to, amongst other sites including the Conciergerie Prison Fortress, Notre Dame. Mr Spencer secured us a place on the tour of Notre Dame. Unfortunately, no one had realised that ‘tour’ in French means ‘tower’, so we were actually booked to go up the towers of Notre-Dame. Luckily no one was scared of heights, and it worked out well as we saw Paris – and the cathedral’s gargoyles - from the height of the tower. We entered the imposing Cathedral itself to Bach playing on the organ, which made for a very striking atmosphere. Our final day included an outing to the tomb of Napoleon, a ritualistic and beautiful church-like site itself, and to the Arc de Triomphe, which provided a view (and number of steps) to rival Notre Dame.

Alongside all of this there were plenty of opportunities for us to enjoy French culture, most notably in the form of food. Although many searches for mussels were unsuccessful, we ate an abundance of crepes, steak and ice cream. At times this led to us losing one, quickly notorious member of the group. Nonetheless, the trip ran very smoothly and I would like to thank, on behalf of all the students, Mr Spencer and Mr McFarland for organising and running a hugely enjoyable trip.