Trips and expeditions

15 April 2024

Upper Sixth History trip to Paris

Ananya (U6D)

At the end of a busy Lent term, a group of Upper Sixth History students were given the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Paris – the centre of our A level French Revolution and Napoleon course.

After an early morning start at St Pancras station, we made our way to Paris and spent our afternoon with our bubbly and all-knowing tour guide, Laurent, in the Carnevale Museum to recap the events of the final years of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s rule and the events French Revolution before ending the day exploring the Maris district for some vintage shopping and gelato.

On our second day, we had the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of French Nobility through the Palace of Versailles and the Grande Trianon, with the Hall of Mirrors being a particular St Helen’s favourite – and the perfect photo-taking spot! After lunch in the town of Versailles at Laurent’s highly recommended crêpe café, we excitedly made our way over to Petite Trianon, the small home of Marie Antoinette within the palace grounds where she spent her days pretending to be a Shepherdess in an English countryside-styled village. The beautiful hamlet was a highlight for many on the trip due to the beautiful sights and adorable farm animals.

My favourite day of the trip was by far the third which began with a tour of Malmaison – the home of Napoleon’s wife Josephine and a beautiful rose garden filled with plants from decades past. Malmaison was the scene of many revolutionary historical events, notably the X. We then made our way back to the heart of Paris, passed the infamous Arc de Triumph, and took in the views of the city from Sac de Coeur and had a truly authentic French lunch of croc monsieurs and rich hot chocolate in the beautiful Montmartre region. Following lunch, we paid a visit to the Eiffel Tower and the obligatory ‘holding the point pictures’ as well as a scenic river cruise along the Seine, past many iconic landmarks such as the Louvre. Our day ended with fun final dinner where we decided to mark the occasion by wearing our new ‘I heart Paris’ T-shirts – much to the excitement of our server.

On our final day, we were reunited with Laurent on a walking tour of many famous French Revolution sights on the City Island and Jewish Quarter including the first palace of the French Kings, Notre Dame and one of my highlights of the trip, the first cafe, also known as political salons which was a frequent meeting spot of many Enlightenment writers and revolutionaries such as Voltaire, Robespierre and Danton. After a little shock of seeing where the Guillotine was first invented and tested, our Parisian adventure ended at the Invalids where we were able to see the tomb of Napoleon and pay our respects to notable French military commanders before returning to Gard de Nurd following an action-packed four days in the beautiful city.

The trip was a great way to unwind after a long term at school and spend time with members of our year before our last term at school.

A big thank you to Mrs Scott-Malden, Miss Smith and (of course) Laurent for making this incredible trip possible, I loved being able to see the sights mentioned in our textbook come to life in front of us and learning all about this fascinating period in depth.

Ananya (U6D)

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