A First Time Trip to Paris
“It was very reassuring to me as a first time trip planner to benefit from all your team’s expertise”
This year Lorna Mackay at Boclair Academy in Bearsden, Glasgow decided to take their 2nd and 3rd year pupils to Paris for the first time to develop their language skills. Lorna had previously taken French language students on exchange trips but decided that as a first trip for the younger pupils a visit to Paris would help to give them a taste for France and develop an interest in French culture. We spoke to Lorna about how she felt organising this type of trip for the first time….
It wasn’t difficult to get interest in the trip at all. I spoke to all the pupils in the classes and asked them to come back to me if they were interested. In the end we had more pupils interested than numbers we could take.
Children who didn’t know each other to start with became friends. Because we had a mix of pupils from two year groups, the trip really gave the pupils an opportunity to bond with children they wouldn’t normally mix with. They were a bit divided at the start but returned as one big group.
I wanted to travel with a company that I knew would look after us. WST came up on a google search for school trips, so I spoke to our Head of Art who already travels with WST and he confirmed he was really pleased with the service, which helped me make my decision.
From the first time I contacted Nici at WST she was so helpful. I had no real fixed idea about what I wanted to do on the trip, I just knew I wanted to see a few of the sights of Paris. Nici obviously knows what she’s doing and guided me, advising what would fit well into each day. I hadn’t thought about lunch or evening meal, but Nici planned all of that. I think if I’d organised it myself the itinerary would have been unbalanced.
Nothing was too much trouble. Once I confirmed the tour Rachel, our Paris expert, was absolutely brilliant. I contacted her back and forth a lot and I always got a reply from her; nothing was too much trouble. She was so patient when I took a while to get paperwork back to her and when I had to make some last minute changes before we left.
We definitely achieved our study objectives on the trip. The pupils were all trying out their French. In fact two girls who came had originally not intended to continue with French, but after this trip they changed their minds!
The pupils coped really well with the long coach journey. I was dreading that long journey from Glasgow but it worked well that we left at night, as the pupils fell asleep so it really wasn’t that bad.
I was really pleased with how the itinerary worked out. We didn’t have to pay for a lot as we included free time seeing the sights such as Montmartre, Notre Dame and the Louvre. This meant we didn’t pay a fortune to get in to things. The packed lunches were amazing too!
The highlight for the students was of course Disneyland Paris. We did this on the last day, which helped to tire the pupils out before setting off for the overnight journey home. They also loved the Seine Cruise as it took them so close to the Eiffel Tower.
Lorna’s top tips if you’re thinking about visiting Paris:
Use a reliable company. I didn’t have a fixed idea of what I wanted to do, be guided by the people who are organising these trips all the time. For example, on one day I felt we weren’t doing that much but Rachel advised it was plenty for a day. And when we got there I realised she was right.
Montparnasse is a brilliant visit. Nici advised me to include it in the itinerary instead of the Eiffel Tower and I wasn’t sure at first. But, when we got up there it meant that our photos now have the Eiffel Tower in the Paris skyline. You will also find a machine there that takes your photo and then it will email a postcard to you. The kids were really excited about that and they sent them to their parents.
Your pupils can have fun practising their French. We wrote a list of French phrases with boxes to tick when they used it. It was like a game for the pupils and encouraged them to speak French.