When in Paris…

German students visit Germany, French students visit France, Spanish students visit Spain and where do English students visit…? Paris.
Six of Tadcaster Grammar School’s finest English Language and Literature students ventured out beyond the realms of Newton Kyme to a new land of culture, art, history, literature and snails.
Departure was last period on a cold, bright Thursday and we headed for York train station in a very swanky minibus (driven by the lovely Mr Palmer). Upon arrival we decided to test our level of chicness by grabbing an iced coffee and magazine to go before advancing to the platform to catch the train. All aboard, we took our seats and were on our way to London St Pancras. In London we just had to cross the road, get in line and the next thing we knew we were on the Gare Du Nord Eurostar under the English Channel, but we had a quick diversion to St Pancras to see the piano being played and snatch a quick boogie. We arrived in Paris and got a (very expensive) taxi to our eco and environmentally friendly hostel which was located on the outskirts of Paris. It was reasonably late when we reached the hostel, and we were all very tired from travelling, so we checked in, settled down in our rooms and had sweet Parisian dreams of what tomorrow would bring.
The next day we woke to croissants, French bread, jam, pastries, cereals, fruit and so much more! Soon we were out the door and going to the metro to travel to La Tour Eiffel. From the metro station we walked to the tower and basked in its mighty glory. While taking in its beauty we were spoken to (harassed) by some women wanting us to sign their petition with the unspoken condition that we also had to give up 1o of our euros. After telling our lovely new acquaintances “no” we decided to get a better look by going across the Seine to a well-known viewpoint. When over the bridge we could see the viewpoint was just in our grasp, only a millions stairs to go up to get to it… Once we overcame the struggle, and the burning thighs, we reached the top looking out at the most spectacular view and decided to treat ourselves to a chocolate filled crêpe. When in France and all that!
Crêpes eaten and the view admired, it was time to move on to something new. We walked down some stairs to a very busy roundabout which must have had at least 8 roads connected to it, each one with its own traffic light system due to the chaos of the streets. After using about 4 of the crossings we began walking down one of the shaded roads that contained modern apartments, quaint cafés, grocery shops with cars and bicycles parked everywhere. Our legs grew tired and just as we felt an urge to give up we saw the truly magnificent Arch De Triomphe. When we’d finished ogling we took some (lots of) pictures, discussed its history briefly and then it was time to carry on, only this time we didn’t have far to go. We were directly connected to the Champs Elysees, one of the largest shopping avenues in the world which is renowned for its theatres, shops, restaurants, cafés and boutiques. Strolling down made us feel like movie stars however the prices were not quite in our budgets and so the facade came to an end.
Back to the metro we went to travel to a new area for a spot of lunch (we were all very hungry by this point). We found a lovely little bistro that was perfect for us and the owner – who sported a wonderfully French moustache – was so friendly! The menu had exactly what we wanted so omelettes, pasta, steaks and, for the more daring, croque monsieur’s were ordered and thoroughly enjoyed. Alas when the food was eaten we had to move on again. Notre Dame this time and, although we didn’t manage to see any hunchbacks, it was possibly the best sightseeing opportunity of them all. The architecture was angelic and the highest points looked as though they touched the sky, and that was only the front. We went around to the back of the cathedral to see an even better magnificent sight. It was more intricate than the front forcing us to be mined blown when thinking about how long it must have taken to create such incredible detail. Across the road was a gift shop we decided to explore and came out having purchased t-shirts, magnets, cards, pencils and keychains all representing our trip.
Next was something that really reinforced the English Language and Literature section of the trip and reminded us that no matter how much we wanted to be, we weren’t true Parisians: The Shakespeare and Company bookshop. It was like a Tardis; the outside looked so small but the inside was chaotic. Tourists from all around the world were crammed into a space piled high with books. If you bought a book it was embossed with an official Shakespeare and Co stamp and earned a great backstory. After we’d shopped till we dropped we went to grab a drink before looking for somewhere to eat. We learnt that day that Parisians think earl grey tea is English breakfast tea and that peppermint tea is green tea. Oh well. We drank our odd tea and moved on to search for a place to eat some fine French cuisine. A few of us even got adventurous enough to try snails! Finally, we got the metro back to the hostel and by this point we were all exhausted and ready for our beds. Once again we dreamt of tomorrow and dreaded having to leave such a wonderful city.
Our last day. We were all extremely sad to leave and so we savoured our breakfast as much as possible before packing our bags and leaving them in a secure locker room. With the bags safe we headed out to the metro and arrived at Père Lachaise, a famous Parisian cemetery which occupies hundreds of graves some belonging to very famous people e.g. Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. We walked around for over an hour taking pictures and admiring the amazing headstones and tombs before heading back to the Eurostar station, to London and then home.
Our wonderful adventure had come to an end; however our Parisian passion never faded away. We were back in Tadcaster but we were still able to relive our memories and remember the amazing journey we’d been on. And now, when we read the accounts of visitors and temporary dwellers in ‘the City of Light,’ we know exactly what they’re talking about.