Friday morning, an early start for all, yet one that would be well rewarded with an ensuing week filled with amazing activities, field trips and enjoyment throughout our stay.
As the France-goers arrived in school and boarded the coach, a buzz of excitement and thrill made the air thick with anticipation. A register called, a tear or two shed by the parents, one coach moving. Our trip had officially begun. As we were cruised down the motorway, the white cliffs of Dover either side of the coach, suddenly the port of Dover came into view. The journey across the channel was smooth and we arrived at the port of Calais ahead of schedule (supposedly the first time in the trip’s history).
Cruising through the subdued, calm, spacious highways of the French countryside, a murmuring began throughout the coach. As we turned the corner, a small cheer sounded from students and teachers alike. We had arrived!
Our extensive range of activities began with a trip to the picturesque, luxurious seaside resort of Berck-sur-mer. After devouring well deserved lunches on the gorgeous, translucent sands of the ensuing beach, we visited a sweet shop that looked as though it were straight from an eighties high street. Our eyes, if not indulged enough already, received another form of visual gold dust as we witnessed sweets being made by a man, whom I may only describe as the God of Confectionery and also the third generation of his family to own the store.
Unfortunately, our time in Berck came to an end and we began our journey to the Château where we would get a look at the fine grounds, swamped in history. From beautiful gardens and forest areas, to buildings as old as time itself, if the days that followed were to be as good as this one, we were in for an amazing experience.
Day two soon rolled around and a visit to the market began our day. The journey to the market was a short one, although the amount of information our instructors managed to cram into the walk was mind boggling. From spiders lurking in the trees to an elephant being murdered by an angry mob, the tales of the village seemed endless. After a quick tour of the various market stalls, a challenge was set for us. Whoever could answer the questionnaire about the village and market the fastest won!
When we returned to the château, a quick change of clothes was in order as we headed out to partake in two of three activities; abseiling, canoeing or kayaking with some of the highly trained, and extremely comedic members of staff.
Day three arrived and by 7.30 am, we were on the coach to Paris. When we arrived in the heart of the city centre, what coach journey would be complete without Mrs Radix being a stand in tour guide for the event. Pointing out various landmarks, completed with a history of said monuments from their beginning, she may want to think about a change of career.
As soon as we were herded off the coach, we were loaded into the lifts taking us straight to the 59th floor of "La tour de Montparnasse" allowing us to get wonderful views and photos of the Eiffel Tower. Now all we had left was the boat trip down the river seine, giving us yet more wonderful views of the city of love in all its spring glory.
On the fourth and final day of our trip we visited the Musée Somme 1916 in Albert. Upon our arrival we immediately delved into the depths of a vast network of underground war-time tunnels. The guide then talked of a range of historical facts throughout the war, from the effectiveness of the American Browning M1917 to the war’s deadliest battles. After this humbling experience we were then briefed on the load out and gear of a World War One soldier. As we strolled through the trenches we were greeted by a majestic caribou towering above us standing tall on a spiralling tower of stone. We visited a couple of graveyards commemorating the lives lost of the War. We then plunged into the surrounding countryside, passing the fields of poppies and barley. In the French countryside we stumbled across a small gathering of people surrounding a monumentally large crater in the ground. The Lochnagar Crater had been created by a British Royal Engineer’s bomb which had scattered debris and dirt around the site in every possible direction. The bomb which had been set off was, at the time, the largest man-made sound ever heard. This gave us the opportunity to truly appreciate the events of the war.