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On Sunday 17th of February, 43 excited year 6 pupils and 7 members of staff set off on the annual Paris trip with a 6am departure unable to dampen spirits as cases were loaded on to the coach. After a brief stop at Oxford services, we continued south to Folkestone to board the EuroTunnel to Calais. In spite of a few ears popping, we enjoyed the unique experience of crossing the channel beneath the sea and definitely welcomed the speedy crossing arriving in France around half an hour later! In good spirits to have made it to France, we continued on to the Chateau Grand Romaine (our home for the next three nights) where the Brazil football team stayed during the 1998 World Cup in France! Upon arrival, staff went for a briefing while the children were given a tour by the ever enthusiastic evening entertainer - Bucky. Following a meal, which included the option of snails, children were treated to a Mini Olympics competition before going to bed weary from the day's travels yet excited for the following day.
The following day began with another early start with teachers waking the children up at half past 6 in order to get ready for breakfast. Following a meal of cereals, fruit, yoghurts and French pastries, we boarded the coach to make our way into central Paris. Despite encountering a LOT of heavy traffic, we were in Paris in around an hour. We were given a guided tour by Annette (our guide) who pointed out prominent buildings such as the Louvre, French Parliament and a local 'pea factory.' Our tour ended at the base of the world-famous Eiffel Tower! We made our way to the security checkpoint gobsmacked by the iconic structure! With great determination, we ascended up the 700 steps to the second level where we were able to see Paris in all its beauty in the warm sunshine. After making our way down the tower, we walked to the banks of the nearby River Seine where we ate our baguettes prior to boarding a boat for a river cruise. It was amazing to see Paris from this unique perspective as the boat passed many famous landmarks. We waved at locals who were eating lunch on the river bank or were passing above us on the many ornate bridges that connect the different areas of Paris. Back on dry land, we got back on to the coach where we were taken to Notre Dame to visit the impressive cathedral that features in the famous story - the Hunchback of Notre Dame - that the children have recently been studying, After touring the cathedral, we looked in the nearby shops and purchased a variety of souvenirs and ate ice cream and crepes in the sunshine. After re-boarding the coach, we visited other famous areas of the city before returning to the chateau. Once back, we had our evening meal before the night's entertainment - making crepes!
Day 3 was another early start that began with Mrs Jackson going into rooms excitedly shouting, "Disney Day!" to wake everybody up! In spite of the early time and previous busy days, everybody (apart from Mr Bould) sprang out of bed in a flurry of excitement to visit 'the happiest place on Earth.' After another lunch prep and breakfast we were on the coach and on our way trying to spot Disneyland signs as we approached the parks. Once we had passed the bag checks we had a look around the HUGE World of Disney shop and began buying presents. Many of the children were kindly buying things for their family before seeing what they had left to spend on themselves. At ten am, the parks opened and we all made our way into the Studios Park and headed straight for the Tower of Terror! This terrifying ride certainly caused a lot of screaming but many of the children pushed themselves to go on in spite of their fears which was a really brave thing to do. The ride is based on a lift in a haunted hotel that becomes possessed and drops hundreds of feet before shooting back up and dropping over and over again! Fuelled by adrenaline following the Tower of Terror, we marched straight to the Aerosmith Rock n Rollercoaster which accelerates from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds before corkscrewing and loop the looping in the dark - another ride NOT for the feint-hearted! After visiting Lightning McQueen, we then entered the Disneyland Park where we ate our baguettes on a sunny Main St USA while the Pirate and Princess parade passed by. After eating, we met Goofy and then the groups split into different areas of the park depending on what the children wanted to do. Hyperspace Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Carribean and many other rides were conquered before we made our way to the very front of the parade route to see all of the Disney Stars on parade - including a fire-breathing dragon! After the parade had finished, everyone's legs were starting to feel the effects of two days of running from one amazing experience to the next as we made our way back on to the coach. Following another evening meal, many of the children, Mr Bould, Mr Shea and Mrs Hedges tried snails. It's fair to say that reviews were mixed! It was then time for evening entertainment: a camp fire where children sang songs and toasted marshmallows in the woods. Before bed time, we all packed our bags before another early start and the LONG journey home.
The final day began with another early start in the hope that setting off early would lead to a shorter journey to miss peak traffic in London. Before breakfast, we had to strip the beds and take our cases down to the coach before going for our last breakfast at the chateau. We waved goodbye to the PGL staff and began our journey towards Calais in eerie thick fog that made it difficult for Andy - the driver - to see very far in front of him. After around three hours of travelling we stopped off at Vimy Ridge - A Canadian war memorial dedicated to the efforts of Canadian soldiers fighting for Allied Forces during the second world war. The land was uneven due to the effects of mines and bombs dropped decades ago. Once we reached the visitors centre, we ate our baguettes before having a look at all of the memorabilia inside. While we were inside, the sun managed to burn through the clouds giving us more beautiful sunshine as we explored the trenches and battlefields. Following that break, we continued on to Calais, through passport control and then on to the tunnel and back into the UK. During the last leg of the journey, the coach became very quiet as the exertions of previous days began to catch up with everyone. Following one final stop at Oxford services, we arrived back at school at 8PM where children were greeted by family members who were overjoyed to see them and hear about their adventures.
All of the staff who took part in the excursion had a fantastic time sharing this trip with the children who were excellently behaved, a credit to their school & their families & a pleasure to spend time with over the four days.
Well done to Millie in class 12 and Edith in class 8 who were winners in the Primary Futures 'Drawing the future' competition where children had to draw an image depicting what they aspire to be when they are older. Millie would like to be an actress performing in pantomimes; Edith wishes to be a scientist and their entries were selected as one of the winners!
Not only did Milie win a BRAND NEW IPAD; also she has won the chance to visit the houses of parliament and 10 Downing Street. Her prize didn't finish there as she also got to meet Danielle Hope (a stage actress who won the BBC competition 'Over the Rainbow') who is playing Snow White at the London Hippodrome! Danielle has also arranged for Millie to go back stage at the pantomime this year at the Birmingham Hippodrome! Edith also won an iPad and the visit to the houses of parliament and 10 Downing Street. She also met a physicist called Olivia who gave her an amazing prize.
What a brilliant prize!!! Well done girls!