For Information on our 2016 Indonesian Study Tour, please click on the link below:
Paris Study Tour 2015
Trafalgar High School has been offering VCE students of Art and History the opportunity to further their education and understanding of their chosen subjects in Paris biennially since 2011. The first study tour in 2011 consisted of 11 History students. The second tour in 2013 consisted of 12 Art students. This year the number of students participating swelled to 9 Art students and 14 History students, allowing for two separate itineraries. As the Art teacher, the following is an account of all experiences with an Art bias.
Day 1, Monday 23rd March was simply spent with anxiety at the airport hoping that all students would arrive on time with their passports. It was touching seeing the farewells exchanged between carers and kids. Tears were shed and then we settled in to our arduous journey: 23 hours with a 2 hour stop-over in Bangkok!
Day 2, Time didn’t fly and we arrived in Paris at 6.30 AM Tuesday. The luggage takes another half hour to arrive and our prebooked coach isn’t there, but hey, we’re in PARIS!
As soon as we arrive at the hostel, we dump or luggage, don warmer gear, buy baguettes at the local boulangerie and head off for a long walk along the Champs Elysees, starting at the Place de la Concorde and ending at the Arch de Triumph. Our first test is to get 26 people on the train through those fast moving doors in one group! Accomplished. In the afternoon we visit the catacombs and witness the macabre sight of thousands of skeletons arranged artfully for kms underground. Robespierre, Danton and Desmoulins are some of the famous artists and revolutionaries buried there. We are exhausted and relieved to have a warm shower and an early night.
Day 3 and the morning is spent doing a guided tour of the Musee du Louvre. Among other things, it was interesting to learn that the original fort of the palace was only discovered when they started to excavate and build the controversial pyramid designed by Mr Pei. That soothed the naysayers! The Louvre of course was fabulous, however it was more crowded than previous visits and I found it frustrating that people pushed in front of artworks just to take a selfie! Here’s a tip. Go to the Louvre Wednesday or Friday night. It’s open until 9.45pm and is less crowded. In the afternoon the History group and a guide (a lovely, knowledgeable woman called Francois) went back to the Place de la Concorde which is where the guillotine was situated, then to Place de la Bastille, Place des Vosges, Ile St Louis, Palais Bourbon and finally Les Invalides where they visited Nepoleon’s tomb and the army museum. Phew! Meanwhile the Art group did a leisurely walk through the Jardins des Tuileries and went to the Musee de l’Orangerie to see Monet’s large scale paintings of waterlillies. We then went to the very worthwhile Musee d”Art Moderne to view artworks from every major artistic movement from the 20th and nascent 21st centuries.
Day 4 and the History group did a walking tour of the Champs de Mars, while the Art students went to the Musee d’Orsay. Being early paid off, and we found ourselves to be the only people in the section that housed Van Gogh’s paintings! Our turn to take selfies, guiltily! It was wonderful to see the vast collection of Impressionists’ paintings knowing that we were yet to visit Monet’s garden and Auvers sur Oise where Van Gogh spent his final days. In the afternoon we were booked to visit the Eiffel Tower. Sigh…. Unfortunately, the Art group was stranded in the subway with no promise of a train to come, so we did what we had to do and jumped into taxis. The weather turned foul so the History group grabbed tuk tuks. Both groups just made it but sadly it was not a pleasant experience on top of the tower with gale force winds and driving rain. For dinner that night we walked to a lovely Basque bistro near the hostel and all the kids tried snails. A great time and meal was had by all.
Day 5 the History group boarded a bus for the Somme battlefields, arriving in Villers Bretonneux. They visited the Musee Franco-Australien, the grave of the Unknown Australian Soldier at the Adelaide Cemetary, then the Australian Memorial where the students placed crosses on the Shrine of Remembrance. In the afternoon they stopped at Le Hamel to tour the Australian Memorial Park, then Pozieres and its two memorials. Finally Thiepval, the Franco-British Memorial. The Art group travelled to the beautiful town of Auvers sur Oise, where Vincent van Gogh spent his final days. We visited the sites which he depicted in his paintings and put yellow roses (Van Gogh’s favourite colour) on his and his brother Theo’s graves’. A touching moment. In the afternoon we went to the Chateau d’Auvers to enjoy a walk through show called “Journey in the days of the Impressionists”. It depicted more than 500 Impressionists’ works projected and presented throughout the walk.
Day 6 and the History group went to the Musee Carnavalet. They had a guide who took them through the collection which tells the story of Paris from prehistoric days to the present. They then went to Sainte Chapelle, built by Louis IX to see the beautiful stained glass windows, and onto the Conciergerie which was a jail where Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned. The Art students went to the Petit Palais which houses an impressive collection of art from the Middle Ages and Renaissance times. After stopping at a lovely bistro for coffee, which turned into a full blown lunch (the art students, I was discovering to my delight, were quite the gourmets) we visited the Rodin Museum. Part of the museum was closed for renovations, but we still enjoyed the lovely gardens where The Thinker and The Gates of Hell sculptures are proudly on display. Inside we saw Rodin’s The Kiss.
Day 7 and we all took the train for our appointment at Chateau de Versaille where we walked through the Grands Appartements. We then rode bikes to Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, a gorgeous little village where farm animals are kept. We patted lambs and a friendly dog and I think for just a moment, some of us were a little homesick. Later, the History group went to the Royal Tennis Court. It was cold and wet, so the Art group took the train back to Paris in search of a coffee in a nice warm bistro.
Day 8 and both groups went to Montmartre to explore the bohemian streets of this artistic district. Firstly we visited Basilica Sacre Coeur, such a beautiful building, then it was shop, shop, shop! In the afternoon the History group went to the Musee Grevin to mingle with the 300 wax figures of famous Parisians. The Art group went to the fabulous Centre Pompidou. Unfortunately, the modern section which we were eager to see was closed until late May, however, the door people must have taken pity on these poor Australians who had travelled so far and let us in to the special Jeffrey Koons exhibition for free! Later that afternoon we enjoyed a river boat cruise on the Seine. It was great to see all the landmarks we recognised from a different perspective.
Day 9 and we all visited Notre Dame Cathedral. Later we climbed the tower of the Cathedral to view the bell and to get up close and personal with some gargoyles. We looked down to see hundreds of people cueing to get into the Cathedral. Once again being early paid off. In the afternoon the History group went to the Archives Nationales, a real highlight. They met up with an old friend from 4 years earlier, Christophe. He took the students out the back of the Archives and opened the vault that houses the major primary source items from the Revolution. The students got to see the first constitution of France, Louis the XVI playing cards, Marie Antoinette’s fashion journal, the first kilo and the first meter to name a few. Afterwards they went to the Hotel de Ville, the political centre of Paris. The art group wandered around the Latin Quarter, chose a restaurant for lunch then went to Lafayette for a little more shopping. At 8.00pm Francois met us for a panoramic night tour by coach. The lighting of the beautiful buildings was spectacular as was, of course, the Eiffel Tower, which puts on a light show at 9.00pm.
Day 10 and we all boarded a coach for the drive to Giverny and Monet’s house and garden. Last time we visited here it had been so cold that none of the flowers were in bloom. This time we could smell the hyacinths before we saw them. Beautiful beds of harmonious colour schemes among drifts of complementary colours were a delight to see. Walking through Monet’s house is always special. It’s understandable Monet chose to stay and paint in his garden until the day he died. After a lovely lunch of buckwheat pancakes with savoury fillings, and at last a good coffee, we went to the Musee des Impressionistes. Last time, not knowing what to expect, we were rewarded with a comprehensive exhibition of Paul Signac’s paintings. This time, to our delight it was Edgar Degas! For our last night in Paris we went to the Latin Quarter to find a bistro happy to take 26 people without a booking. Too easy. This time all of the students tried frogs’ legs. “Tastes like chicken” was heard a lot. Back to the hostel where we all may or may not have had a little tumbler of champagne (what happens on camp, stays on camp) to toast what was a spectacularly successful and enjoyable trip.
Once again, thank you to our wonderful students for making this trip so pleasurable. Also thank you to Laura Robertson for organizing everything, again! And to Richard Morrison whose linguistic skills were impressive and his enthusiasm infectious. Bring on 2017!
For any information about the Art/History study tour in 2017, please contact either Laura Robertson or myself at Trafalgar High School.