Cape High students say ‘oui’ to Paris

City of Light charms French pupils with sights, architecture, arts, food
May 13, 2024

Cape High students took in the sights, sounds and tastes of Paris during a packed-itinerary trip March 19-26. 

French teacher Holly Criswell said the group comprised 14 students, three adults and two chaperones.

“We enjoyed nice, almost summer-like weather for the first part of the trip, including our boat ride on the river Seine,” Criswell said.

The host city is currently gearing up to host the Summer Olympics in late July, Criswell said, so students were able to see many venues already in place, like a volleyball stadium at the base of the Eiffel Tower and a hippodrome at Versailles.

“From my point of view, it was exciting and interesting to see these Olympic innovations in the heart of timeless Paris,” Criswell said.

Tour company Prométour provided an excellent English-speaking guide, Criswell said, and the Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation granted funds that were divided equally among students to defray costs.

Students Mackenzie Hansen, Taylor Ruark, Cora Emily, Alexandra Ellis and Christian Watland said Paris was a remarkably clean city featuring beautiful architecture and a diverse atmosphere. Even the graffiti was like art, they said.

The group visited l'Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées, the Château de Versailles and its gardens, the Quartier Latin and the cathedral of Notre Dame from a distance, as the cathedral is not yet open for visit while repairs continue following a major fire in 2019. 

Students also toured the Sainte Chapelle, the Musée d'Orsay, the Sacre Coeur and Montmartre, l'Opéra Garnier, the Centre Pompidou, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. 

They also visited the Fragonard perfume museum, toured a French bakery to see how baguettes and croissants are made, and had a free ice cream snack from Maison Berthillon, one of Paris' most well-loved creameries, Criswell said.

Students said they enjoyed visiting food markets, eating bread and Nutella every morning for breakfast, and devouring their body weight in macarons. Walking more than 17,000 steps a day kept any weight gain in check, they said.

Parisians wear a lot of trench coats, students said, along with some berets, and jeans with layered tops. Unlike in the U.S., they said, no one was wearing sweatpants in public. Not many locals use cars, they said; instead, Parisians walk or bike, or rely on public transportation and mopeds.

Cute cafés are on every street corner, students said, noting the widespread use of environmentally friendly materials such as paper straws and cups, and wooden silverware.

Students said they tried to speak French when they could, but the locals would converse with them in English when they learned students were American; Spanish and English were heard spoken more often. 

In school, students said they are learning standard French, which is more proper than French slang, so they were able to more easily understand older speakers. Reading French menus and signs was much easier than conversing with the fast-speaking Parisians, students said.

A large armed police presence was noted at major tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and Versailles, students said, which made them feel safe.

One plus of the trip, students said, was that they were able to bond with the kids they already knew, and make friends with the kids they didn’t know.

A student-populated Instagram account @capefrancetrip_2024 allowed families to follow along with the trip from home.


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