In the article below, a pupil from the Upper Sixth reflects on her experience of the recent trip to Paris:
"I was delighted to attend the 2019 Paris trip. Despite not studying French or even the French side of the history A-level course, I was eager to learn about the history of revolutionary politics in France, see the splendour of Notre-Dame and stroll around the cobbled streets of Montmartre. I was not disappointed.
Upon arriving, we visited the Louvre Museum. We spent a few hours exploring and getting lost in the sprawling museum, catching glimpses of the famous Mona Lisa and works by Jacques-Louis David. The next day we toured the heart of Paris where we saw one of my favourite buildings - the Hotel de Ville (City Hall). Its Neo-Renaissance architecture caught my eye, and its history as the headquarters of the 1871 Paris Commune captured my attention, sharpening my fascination with the tumultuous history of the French Republic.
The highlight of our trip was the visit to the Palace of Versailles. The opulence and scale defy description and will remain forever imprinted in my mind. It seemed like every inch of every surface inside the Palace was covered in gold or luxurious furnishings. The Palace of Versailles also brought to life the run-up to the French Revolution. Walking amidst the splendour of the Palace, you can imagine the vanity and ambition of Louis XIV, the so-called 'Sun King', whose extravagant spending would lead to France's financial crisis. You can also imagine just how out-of-touch Louis XVI and his royal court must have been with the social upheavals leading to the Revolution. Marie Antoinette may never have uttered 'Let them eat cake' but the lavish surroundings of Versailles would have made it difficult to understand or empathise with the starving, restless peasants outside. In its own way the Palace of Versailles explains the causes of the French Revolution.
The last day we climbed the steep, cobbled streets of Montmartre to the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur high atop a hill. The Basilica projects both grandeur and grace and offers sweeping views of the entire city. Sacré-Coeur stands as a statement of Catholic faith visible from nearly all parts of Paris. We enjoyed our final lunch in Montmartre before getting the Metro back to the hostel to leave.
For me, the Paris trip afforded us all a unique experience to learn about history amidst stunning architecture. We were able to walk around these grand historical monuments with our teachers to guide us and flesh out our varied understanding of French history. The trip has inspired me to explore France’s past further, and I am grateful to have attended."