A school trip to Paris is always an exciting prospect. Packed with history, bursting with art and culture and buzzing with a modern cosmopolitan vibe, it is a city perfect for educational trips. When planning a school trip to Paris, I would highly recommend that you aim to include one or two visits to some of the more macabre sites the city has to offer. There is no better way to get youngsters interested in history than by including a bit of horror and gore, and these sites (introduced below) help to bring important aspects of history to life in a particularly appealing way! |
Paris might be known around the world as ‘The City of Light’, but deep underneath its thronging streets lies another somewhat darker world that houses the skeletons of six million Parisians from times gone by. The warren of old caves and tunnels covers hundreds of miles and is strewn with bones, skulls and ancient remains. Overpopulated graveyards in the eighteenth century led to people putting their dead to rest in the Catacombs that have now been opened as a place of historical interest. This one is always a hit on a school trip to Paris.
Place de La Concorde
This iconic square has an intricate history that can be told while your students sit and enjoy a drink and snack in the beautiful public space. After going through a couple of name changes and having its appearance altered (quite dramatically at times), the square became home to a famous guillotine. Children will be fascinated as they hear about the bloodshed that came with the French Revolution. They’ll also ask lots of questions as they discover that this was once the setting for 1,200 executions; King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were among the victims. It was eventually renamed Place de la Concorde (a reference to harmony) and is now a place of peace.
Place de la Bastille
Built on the site of the Bastille fortress and once home to the Bastille Prison, this square was also a place of execution for a short time. In only five days during 1794, 75 people were executed. Today, it is a much happier place, with annual dances held here every summer since 1790.
Cimetière de Montmartre
The resting place of so many famous people, including Truffaut, Berlioz, Degas and La Goule (the first great cancan star and a model for the famous painter, Toulouse-Lautrec), this cemetery has much potential for discussion. You can choose to focus on any of the inhabitants here and bring yet another element of the city’s history to life. You can also highlight that the necropolis is still used today and show the class the flowers that will almost certainly adorn the grave of pop icon, Dalida.
A school trip to Paris offers many learning opportunities, but planning it can be daunting. I advise booking with a specialist educational travel company who will do all of the logistical organising for you and help you make the most out of your time in this great city.
John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in educational travel for school and youth groups. Whether you’re planning a school trip to Paris, New York or India’s Golden Triangle, you can trust both the educational and economic value of their itineraries, whether ready-made or specifically designed to suit the needs of your group.
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