KS3 History Summer Residential Trip To France
Following the hugely successful trip to Poland with members of the older year groups, it was time to provide a history trip for the younger pupils and where better to go than Normandy and Paris? Having departed from school before the dawn chorus we were at our first destination of Honfleur in time to polish off the substantial lunches not already digested on the coach. Exploring this magical harbour town of brightly painted houses, chocolate shops and the largest wooden church in France (made only with axes) it is no wonder artists such as Claude Monet made it their home. From here to the chateau where we were staying was an hour’s drive and arriving at our base, where delicious food, first rate facilities (including a swimming pool) and friendly staff awaited, we quickly unpacked and the evening was our own.
The first full day of the trip saw us in the medieval city of Bayeux. With its dominating cathedral, beautiful town square and of course its most treasured possession; the Bayeux Tapestry. Nothing can prepare you for walking around what must be one of the most significant and historical artefacts in existence. It is a piece of Norman propaganda that relates the story of the Battle of Hastings and its background, through pictures which were stitched together nearly a thousand years ago by the women of Canterbury. It was simply superb. The subsequent purchase of tea- towels, pens and a variety of paraphernalia was a prerequisite for presents to bring home.
The rest of our Normandy stay was devoted to visiting the sites and museums commemorating the D-Day landings of 1944. From the majestic British cemetery, to the understated and foreboding German cemetery and the vast American cemetery at Omaha; the evidence of the sacrifice and cost in lives is clear to see. We visited various gun batteries and Pegasus Bridge whilst at the Maisy battery were able to view the original guns in situ, clamber into the trenches around the site and explore the underground tunnels and chambers which still exist. In the museums we learnt about the importance of D-Day, the astonishing preparations that went into ensuring its success and heard first-hand accounts of the horrors that the brave combatants faced. It brought home the jaw dropping scale, destruction and courage which was witnessed in this particular theatre of war.
On the penultimate day of our trip we rose from our beds before 6am and headed towards Paris and Euro-Disney. An exhausting day saw a complete contrast to the history we had been privileged to experience the past three days. Disney is 100 years old this year, and boy did they want to let us know. The rides were designed for screaming on and the food outlets for indulging in. The laser and music show at the end was unforgettable. Crawling to our beds at past Midnight, it was a day in which we shared so many wonderful experiences with our friends.
The final day saw us take a quick detour into Paris centre and a boat trip along the Seine before making our way home. Arriving late in the evening, loaded down with chocolates, presents and memories, we knew we still had the whole summer holiday ahead of us!
Mr Lamb - History & RE