It’s quite unique to have the opportunity of a overseas school trip to your French teacher’s home town in France, but when the home town is Paris, it turns into something very special indeed. Dartmouth Academy’s modern foreign languages expert, Virginia Ford-Attia, treated 35 pupils to the trip of a lifetime by organising a Challenge Week excursion that took in all the sights, sounds and tastes of the French capital. In a heat wave where the city centre signs were declaring 36 degrees Celsius, the group’s excitement never flagged: they squeezed onto the Metro in rush hour; ordered lunch and dinner in Parisian restaurants; took a walking tour of the Louvre, the Tuileries, Champs Elysées, Place de la Concorde and Notre Dame; cruised along the Seine on a guided boat trip; gorged themselves while learning how French chocolates are made in the Chocolate Museum; and enjoyed a bird’s eye view of the capital from the very top of the iconic Eiffel Tower.

‘It was great to be given an insider’s view of Paris. We felt a personal connection to the City as Mme Ford did not just tell us the history of all the famous landmarks but gave us a glimpse of her memories of growing up there. For instance, she pointed out the shop where she gained her first job at the age of 16!’ said Eleanor, aged 14.

Matthew Bakewell, Deputy Principal said, ‘For some of the pupils, this was their first trip abroad and most had never been to Paris. The aim of Challenge Week is for pupils to push themselves out of their comfort zone and this trip away from their parents staying in the centre of Paris did just that. Some had a fear of heights, but the whole group took the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Everyone tried to speak French in the boulangeries, restaurants or at breakfast in the hotels, and for everyone, including the teachers, the rides and shows at Disneyland were a thrilling and magical experience.’

The trip finished with the famous late-night laser, light and firework show in the Magic Kingdom which left many of the pupils in tears, knowing that the trip was coming to an end and that they had had the time of their lives.

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