On November 18th I had the privilege of travelling to Paris with three teachers and a some of our History, Art and French students. The result: a cold, wonderful, exhausting, surreal school trip that I can say with certainty, I will never forget. I could easily assemble a list of things we did and places we visited, but that wouldn’t do this experience justice. Instead, I’d like to take the time to explain the feeling of absolute breathlessness you get when you step out of the Metro and onto the streets of Paris. I wish desperately that I could go against the many clichés about France’s “sparkling city” and its dream-like atmosphere, but I can’t – I could not describe it any other way!
As we meandered through the winter streets, lit only by the dazzling Christmas lights and the chatter of restaurant-goers, you could hear a collective gasp of excitement amongst our small cohort as we gazed at the elegant architecture accented by Bistros and Brasseries. We spent our days going from place to place, wasting no time in between each of the marvels we
encountered. We spent every possible hour of the day travelling and making the most of the four days we had in the City of Lights. Our itinerary was full, and yet, we managed to find time to sit and appreciate the undeniable beauty, cultural richness and history of this remarkable city.
One outing I would like to highlight in particular, is the evening that we spent in Montmartre, a village at the top of a hill that overlooks all of Paris. Despite the cold weather and the seemingly endless flight of stairs, the self-contained “quarter” had its own, less metropolitan character, whilst still maintaining the timeless beauty of the rest of the city. Restaurants, shops and everything in between remained alive even though the sun had long gone, each one illuminated, spilling a warm glow onto the evening streets. After appreciating the picturesque view of Paris spread out before us, we visited a French-inspired pizzeria, where we thawed out our fingers and enjoyed a very welcome meal.
As much as this trip allowed us to explore Paris’s quintessential charm, we also had the pleasure of sampling day-to-day Parisian life (la vie quotidienne) which was something that I, as an A level French student, was eager to experience. Small interactions like ordering food at a restaurant, or asking if there was a bathroom nearby, made me light up with excitement. I was finally able to put into practice all of the skills I had been learning in the form of a language; and in a place that I have had such hopeless admiration for, for such a long time.
In Paris, the air had a certain energy, so that even the restful moments were never dull. The low-level hum of chatter on the Métro and the stray, melodic notes of buskers’ tunes, kept the atmosphere alive, which to me, is part of Paris’s beauty.
Following four days of spectacles and delights like Le Palais Versailles, Le Tour Eiffel and Le Musée d’Orsay, it came time for us to pack our bags and head back to England. With tired eyes and aching feet, we caught a train, to then board another train, followed by a third train, which eventually took us home.
I left with a hundred stories to tell, a better French accent and the experience of a lifetime, and I cannot think of anything more worthy of the exhaustion I felt at school the following Tuesday morning.
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There is no better way to get a feel for student life at Claremont than by visiting us in person. Join us during Open House Week to tour our beautiful sites, meet the Heads of School and teaching team, chat with students, view their work and enjoy some delicious refreshments along the way.
Join us for an eclectic, annual celebration of dance featuring recent work from talented performers up and down the senior school.