Saint Paul’s Excursion to France

Pupils from Saint Paul’s Catholic High School in Wythenshawe were able to immerse themselves in many aspects of French culture from visiting the bustling Christmas markets in Amiens and historic Boulogne, to staying in a chateau and visiting Nausicaá, France’s world-class sea-life and marine environment centre.

Amiens proved to be the perfect place for the French and Art students to experience the authentic and magical atmosphere of a traditional Christmas market and soak up the art, culture and history of the French city.

Staged in the heart of the city, the “Winter Scents, Amiens Christmas Market” (les parfums d’hiver, le marché de noël d’Amiens) is the largest Christmas market in the north of France. The whole of Amiens city centre was immersed in the imaginary world of Jules Verne for the occasion, and the pupils were able to explore this world of dreams and festivities. There was a variety of festive music, tasty treats and lights and an open air ice rink, merry-go-rounds, singers and shows.

The visit to Nausicaá allowed pupils to experience and record images on sea life which they may use in the future projects on Matisse or Munch’s “The Scream”. The school feels that it is important that pupils are able to gather independent research first hand, as work produced from experience is far more personal and better informed.

Pupils also had an excellent opportunity to view street artists in Boulogne, including an outstanding ice sculptor and creative and dramatic street performers. A particularly useful focus in Boulogne and Amiens was that they were able to see people making and selling crafts based around skills they might learn in school.

 “The visit provided an excellent opportunity for the pupils to practice their French in a “real life” situation which is so very different from classroom learning,” explained Mrs Helen Farrar, Head of Modern Language at Saint Paul’s.  “It was great to see how their confidence grew as they were able to experience communicating in a foreign language! The students enjoyed the trip which was great fun and very friendly.”

Mrs Farrar added: “The pupils quickly got into the festive spirit. The Christmas markets were enchanting and were ideal for our pupils to experience the richness of French culture. The pupils gained valuable skills which can be used in their studies, they also gained a great deal of confidence through the whole trip and it was great to see pupils from all year groups helping and supporting each other.”

Miss Rebecca Coyle, Second in the Performing and Expressive Arts faculty at Saint Paul’s, who also went on the trip, commented: “This was an excellent trip, which proved to be hugely enjoyably and a very valuable support for the students’ work. The visit brought them into contact with many areas of inspiration for their art projects.”

“The Amiens Christmas markets had a warm and festive feel with plenty of choice to suit all tastes. It was a wonderful opportunity for our pupils to explore the old city and savour the atmosphere,” continued Miss Coyle.

Miss Coyle added: “It was an excellent opportunity for the pupils to experience art in a different way…rather than the obvious. Plus, in the New Year, the Year 10 Art students will be doing a sea life project… so they will have primary research from both the Blue Planet Aquarium and Nausicaa.”

 “We see educational visits and trips as very important for our pupils, they can stimulate and inspire, aid personal and social development and motivate learners of all abilities,” commented Mr Wiktor Daron, Head Teacher at Saint Paul’s. “The trip to France will be one that they will remember for a very long time.”