In mid-April, six students from the aptly-named Notre Dame Catholic School traveled to France for a week-long tour of Paris. The high school students made the trip with a teacher and chaperone. Before leaving, the students learned about the history and culture of France, particularly Paris. They also held multiple fundraisers to help defray the cost of the trip. The arrangements for the school trip were put together by Fourwinds Tours & Travel, which has been in the business of broadening students’ minds through the experience of travel for over 20 years.
The school group flew out of John F. Kennedy airport on Saturday, April 14, and landed at Charles De Gaulle in France the next day. That afternoon, they got started with a guided city tour of Paris. They visited some of the city’s’ most important landmarks, such as the Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Place de la Concorde and Place Vendome. The students were excited to see in person some of the places they had been learning about in school.
The second day in Paris started with taking the metro to the world-famous Champs-Elysées, an avenue that stretches 1.17 miles from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de Concorde, where they spent the morning shopping and sightseeing. At midday, the group attended a mass at the Notre-Dame Cathedral, which was quite a moving experience. Afterwards, the teens were allowed some free time in the Latin Quarter, the student district of Paris which is lively and has some of the best cafes, shops and book stores. After dinner, the group was treated to a Seine river cruise, so they could enjoy all the iconic Parisian monuments lit up at night, such as the Eiffel tower and Notre-Dame located along the river. The following day, the students visited La Défense, a modern business district of Paris. There they took in the Grande Arche de la Défense, a 20th Century architectural version of the Arc de Triumph. From there, the group toook the metro to the Picasso Museum, where the students could get better acquainted with works by the famous Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso. Aftwards, they walked to the Place des Vosges, which is considered to be the oldest and most beautiful square in Paris.
On Wednesday, April 18, the school group took the metro to the Pere Lachaise cemetery. The largest cemetery in Paris, it claims to be the most visited graveyard in the world, due to many famous tombs there, such as Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Frédérick Chopin and more. Next, the students visited the macabre Catacombs of Paris, where they could see the final resting place of over six million people. The high schoolers were then granted the rest of the afternoon to do some souvenir shopping and explore on their own.
On the sixth day of the trip, the school group visited the magnificent Musée d’Orsay. Located in a renovated former railway station, this art museum is famed for its collection of masterpieces from the impressionist and post-Impressionist periods, including ones by painters such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. After lunch, the students took a stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries, a large public garden popular with Parisians. That afternoon the group paid a visit to the Dôme des Invalides, which contains Napoleon’s tomb.
For their final full day in Paris, the school group spent the morning in Montmartre, an artist area where painters like Monet and Toulouse L’Autrec lived and discovered artistic inspiration. They then took a funicular to Sacré-Cœur, The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, Frances’ second most visited church after Notre-Dame. After lunch, the students visited the iconic Eiffel Tower and ventured up to an obsevation deck overlooking the city. It was a fitting way to wrap up their last evening in Paris.
The last day in France was left open for students to do some last minute souvenir shopping and explore locations of their choosing. The teenagers had bonded closely with each other, making and strengthening friendships during their time away from school. Everyone was excited to return home to tell their family and friends about the amazing places they had been and unforgettable memories they had made. They had grown in many ways, becoming more independent and gaining greater appreciation for other cultures.