Martyn Plant and his students from Norton Hill School recently went on a school trip to Paris. Read on to find out about his first-hand experience.
Planning and organisation
We had a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding Paris Trip with 33 Art, English and MFL students and four staff. The staff at Rhapsody Tours were extremely helpful and professional throughout the booking process, despite some difficulties we had our end with staffing and students. The pack that arrived in school in good time for the trip included all that we needed for the trip. In fact it included more than I expected, such as maps and guide book. Each activity was very straightforward, thanks to this detailed and well-organised pack.
Transport and Accommodation
The coach company and drivers were excellent. All three drivers were polite, friendly and accommodating. The coach driver is vital in ensuring a successful trip, and these drivers helped it run smoothly, despite high winds and stormy seas on our outward journey, and the very busy traffic in and around Paris.
The hotel was very good, and suited our requirements well. It was close enough to Paris, and was clean, well-organised and comfortable. The buffet breakfast was very good, with plenty to eat, and the other facilities, such as vending machines was also appreciated.
Structure of the trip
The itinerary was well-structured, though we did find the traffic and storms affected some of the arrangements. Nevertheless, we went everywhere and saw everything we wanted to see. This was a combined Art and Language trip, so the aim was to experience the sights and sounds of Paris, and in particular the art and design. English students needed to experience the places referred to in their set texts, MFL students got the opportunity to develop their language skills, and Art students were able to study specific art works relevant to their coursework, as well as others that were less directly relevant. Many of our students do not manage to travel very far afield, and very few of those on the trip had visited Paris before, so this was a great experience and opportunity.
Day One-Journey and Paris
Day One was a very early start, setting off at 4.30am from school! However, the coach journey was comfortable and we made good time despite the winds and rain. The storms affected our channel crossing but we took it in our stride, and before we knew it we were heading to Paris. Our first stop in Paris was for evening meal at Flunch, and the staff and manager were very helpful and friendly. The buffet-style meal was very interesting and a new experience for all of us. Following this we had time to wander around the Centre Pompidou, briefly, and the surrounding area before heading to our hotel.
Day Two-Galleries and sites
Everyone slept well, and were up bright and early for a busy day. After a filling breakfast of cereal, pastries, bread, and optional meat and cheese, (and not forgetting lots of coffee!) we headed into Paris. It was a lovely sunny day, and we had a pleasant walk to the Musee D’Orsay, where we spent a couple of hours looking at their extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art work, and other exhibits. After this we strolled along the River Seine to the Eiffel Tower. We then boarded our boat for the river cruise, which was a relaxing and enjoyable hour in lovely weather looking at the sites and listening to the commentary (and accompanying music). Following this the coach dropped us near Notre Dame, where we had time to explore the area, before heading to Montmartre. In the evening we wandered around Sacre Coeur, and the area around it, and had a lovely evening meal.
Day Three-More galleries and the long journey home
For the final day we drove into Paris again, and had another refreshing walk through the Tuilleries Gardens before spending two hours in the Louvre. This is a huge venue with much to see, and, although some of us did get lost at times, we saw lots of wonderful art works, including famous works such as the Mona Lisa. We made good time on our way back, and arrived at school tired but very enthused by our whole experience.
Summary and follow-up
The students were very positive about the trip and they have been discussing and recording evidence of it in their work. I have received several comments from other teachers within the school, and from parents, regarding students favourable responses to the trip and being enthusiastic about what they saw and did. I would be very keen to run the trip again in the future with Rhapsody Tours, as well as look at arranging other trips with the company, as it ran smoothly and without problem, and we all had an enjoyable and useful time.