Remove French Exchange

Monday 3rd July 2023

On Thursday 22nd June, 30 excited Remove pupils arrived at London St Pancras to take the Eurostar to Paris, which was the first time for some of them. Even the journey was a learning experience with interesting questions surfacing about vocabulary around us: les voitures, le quai, la voie. We soon arrived in Paris and walked through the streets to our accommodation, noticing the architecture and hustle and bustle of Parisian life. After settling in and having dinner, we explored the beautiful Parc des Buttes-Chaumont where Mr Kiggell explained how the park had been created with its waterfalls, caves, bridges, cliffs, lakes and the Temple de la Sibylle.

The following day, we travelled out of the heart of the city to meet our French exchange partners at their school, Collège Notre-Dame de Bury. Marlborough pupils were split into groups and given tours of the school in French by the French pupils, which ended up with a lunch under the trees by the lake in the school grounds. There were interesting conversations taking place on a whole range of topics and pupils quickly found areas of common ground to discuss. After saying à bientôt to our French exchange partners, our return journey took us back to the very centre of Paris, where we came up from the métro station to the lively and exciting Champs-Elysées! We could glimpse the Arc de Triomphe at the end of this famous avenue and some interesting French shops such as the bookshop FNAC which we all enjoyed. Pupils appreciated some shopping time and welcomed a break from the heat of the day. For dinner, we sampled the classic French dining experience of Flunch which quickly became a source of hilarity on the trip as pupils were convinced that the steak à cheval option on the menu was horse meat rather than beef with a fried egg on top (a horse-riding egg!).

Saturday 24th June was an exciting day of taking in more well-known sights and sounds in central Paris: we walked from the Place de la Concorde through the Jardin des Tuileries to the Louvre, learning about the historic relevance of each monument and area en route. A glimpse of the Tour Eiffel thrilled us further. A quick stop to the shopping area under the Louvre helped us to escape the rather intense heat and we enjoyed browsing French shops such as the Fragonard perfume shop and Pylones with its quirky accessories, where a few pupils purchased Tour Eiffel shaped toothbrushes! We then carried on across the Pont Neuf bridge over the River Seine to see the Notre Dame Cathedral and enjoyed lunch on the Île Saint-Louis. Lunch would not have been complete without a famous Berthillon ice cream, and pupils practised their best French when asking for une boule and un cornet.

Then, we met up with our French exchange partners again by the river and boarded a bateau-mouche river cruise which gave pupils a tour of Paris on the water, a close up view of the Tour Eiffel and a chance to speak some more French. We took the opportunity to escape the sun again and get some well-deserved rest in a beautiful park surrounded by the river on either side. With our batteries recharged, we walked back across the Pont Neuf and carried on to the Opéra district for dinner, via the stylish Galerie Vivienne which had a particularly beautiful bookshop. The lady working in the shop sought us out at the end to compliment the pupils’ efforts to speak to her in French. Dinner was delicious and well-deserved after all our walking; pupils enjoyed ordering their meat à point or bien cuit and some asked for their meal to be sans cornichons.

Sunday 25th June was our final day and pupils amazed us with their continued positivity and stamina as we made the long and hot journey back towards the Gare du Nord. We picked up some much-needed refreshments in Starbucks and played a group quiz in the large seating area about everything experienced or learnt on the trip with some historical facts thrown in for good measure. Rosie B was our winner and graciously accepted her prize with a merci beaucoup. A short nip into the Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann to see the famous art nouveau glass dome and view from the roof terrace left us wanting to come back to Paris soon as we then made our way back to the station to get the Eurostar home. Overall, it was such a rewarding trip despite the heat, and the group of pupils were excellent company throughout.

Ellen Hayes
Head of French

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