Not only was the ‘city of light’ bathed in its usual special glow but we also saw the most snow French capital for ten years. The ambiance was magical. Snow lay up to four to five inches thick as we trekked around the city and made our way to cultural sites such as the Louvre museum and Napoleon’s tomb, and gazed down on the city from the heights of Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur Basilica. The group visited the Left Bank near the Sorbonne University which is home to bookshops, bistros and tiny boutiques, and the funicular railway swept us up the hill while buses were off the streets for the duration of our stay due to the unexpected levels of snowfall.
We visited Notre Dame Cathedral and saw the beautiful rose stain glass windows. The area is also known as the Latin Quarter and here students were truly able to practise their French, strike bargains (the success of which depended on their grasp of the language), and even have their portraits drawn in Montmartre at the Place du Tertre. A night time tour of the capital saw us arrive at the Trocadero viewing platform just in time to see the icon of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, start its shimmering light show.
The exploring did not stop once we had left Paris, as we took a break at the UNESCO heritage town of Arras to walk round its unique town squares, Guildhall and Belfry. Our final stop before heading home was Vimy Ridge which is the Canadian war memorial for First World War soldiers.
The four days were packed with new and delightful experiences, and hopefully students gained in self-confidence and knowledge. It has opened the door for students to take more trips abroad to explore history and use their languages.