Between 21-23 March, 45 Year 12 History students accompanied by 5 teachers went on the annual CSG trip to Paris.
The photos here show students at the Palais Royale, the Palace of Versailles and the Eiffel Tower (courtesy of Zoe Year 12)
Head of History
This year’s Paris trip was great! We viewed a lot of Parisian culture and history which intertwined with the history A level. On the Thursday, we all made our own way to St Pancras international where we boarded a Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord - ‘station of the north’. We arrived in Paris at around 6pm and walked to our hostel from the station. The hostel was located in the north of Paris in a very urban and diverse area. My friends and I went out exploring before we went to dinner and noticed that there were many cafes with many traditional pastries and baguettes. Before dinner all students on the trip met in the foyer of the hostel and split into groups. We were given a bunch of metro tickets by our teachers, they told us that during our free time on the trip we should tour Paris and go and explore completely independently in our groups. For dinner we took the metro to the Saint - Michel Notre - Dame and found a small restaurant to eat in. We then visited the Notre Dame and took many pictures. We went at night time so the building was lit up. The Notre Dame was built in 1163 and is designed in a gothic fashion for the Archbishop of Paris as the official seat. In present day it is still used as a Cathedral full of historic artwork. We also then walked along the River Seine and watched ferries sail past.
On Friday we visited the Gardens of the Palais Royal. Mr Yates stood in the very spot where Desmoulins gave his speech that ignited the people of Paris on the 12 July 1789. He made us all sing the French national anthem which was the song of the revolution sang by the people. It later triggered the storming of the Bastille only two days later. During the French Revolution Louis Philippe II gained the public's favour here by opening the garden of the estate to all Parisians. It once again became the centre of Parisian political and social intrigue. It also was the site of the most popular cafes. Where these cafes and shops used to stand they are now replaced by clothes shops.
We then got on a double decker train to Versailles. When we arrived in Versailles we were greeted with a French lunch. For the starter we had a traditional French onion soup with bread. The main course was chicken, served with chips and a leafy salad. Dessert in my opinion was the best, we were served Tarte aux Pommes. This is a pastry with thin slices of apples laid on a pastry with whipped cream on the side. We then went to view the Palace and Garden of Versailles. There we saw the bed chambers of the Kings and Queens - which were separate even though they were married. The castle was full of paintings of all the Louis’ and Napoleon. Also of the queens such as Marie Antoinette, revolutionaries and the people of France. We were told after the revolution this was all that was left of the paintings of the monarchists as many were burnt and destroyed in the revolution. It had a meadowland with lakes and streams. There are numerous buildings in a rustic or vernacular style inspired by Norman or Flemish designs. It had a small farmhouse that produced milk and eggs for the queen, however it was burnt down in the revolution. It had many flowers around all buildings and in the meadowlands.
Before dinner we were taken to the Bastille area, where the Bastille prison stood until the storming of the Bastille took place on the 14th July 1789. The prison had become a symbol of the monarchy's dictatorial rule, and the event became one of the defining moments in the Revolution that followed. Today the square straddles 3 arrondissement of Paris, the 4th, 11th and 12th.
Saturday was our final day in Paris. In the morning we did a bag check and left our hostel for the day’s activities. We split into groups for a treasure hunt around Paris! We rode the metro to different historical areas in Paris where our teachers waited for us to give us information for the treasure hunt. My group visited the Carnavalet museum, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the City. Then the Place de la Concorde, which is one of the major public squares in Paris. During the revolution, in 1792, the statue was destroyed and the square was renamed, Place de la Revolution. Then it became the selected site for the guillotine and soon turned into a bloodstained stage as the revolution descended into anarchy. More than 1200 people were executed. Then we went to Dantons statue and while walking past we saw the protestors marching down the streets of Paris. He was given a statue as he was a leading figure in the early stages of the revolution, he was in particular the first president on the Committee of Public Safety. He was guillotined by advocates of the revolutionary terror and therefore given a statue in Paris to commemorate him and his work in the revolution.
The last place we visited before leaving Paris was the Champ de Mars. Now it is a large public green space in Paris - during the revolution on the 17th July 1791 the Champ de Mars massacre took place. Because Louis XVI failed to flee Paris, the radicals in the political clubs called for the abolition of the Monarchy. Petitions were sent out by Cordelier and Jacobin club and the people of Paris began to sign them. However, the leaders of the Paris commune were concerned that the large gatherings might develop into insurrection. They banned the assembly and deployed the National Guard on the Champ de Mars, 50 people were killed and many were wounded. However due to this massacre it was a turning point in the development of the new society.
After my group not winning the hunt we all returned to the hostel to collect our cases and travel back to London.
This year’s history trip to Paris was very insightful as we got to physically see what we were studying about in class. We saw many important historical sites where many important events took place that helped shaped France into the democratic country it is today.