No matter where in the world teachers choose to take their pupils on educational excursions, there are always going to be sights which, although clichéd, are mandatory. Going to London and not seeing Big Ben, or to Rio de Janeiro and not climbing the Corcovado, are unthinkable ideas for most of the western population, and chances are any school trips visiting those cities and countries will not gloss over those landmarks.
Crossing the Channel
School day trips to France are no different. The country, and Paris in particular, is well known for a number of world-famous tourist attractions, which any group of young learners would be remiss not to stop by. The Eiffel Tower and the Musée du Louvre are two that instantly spring to mind, but following not too far behind on their footsteps is the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral.
Europe’s Most Famous Cathedral
Immortalised in the novel ‘The Hunchback Of Notre Dame’, published in the 19th century by Victor Hugo, this cathedral was then, and remains to this day, one of the highlights of the Parisian landscape. Teachers leading their pupils on school day trips to France might find that visiting this landmark will be useful not only for those classes who might be studying the book (be it in English or French), but also for subjects relating to art or history.
Located in the fourth borough (quatriéme arrondissement) of Paris, Notre-Dame inserts itself into the Gothic style, most frequent in the Middle Ages. Over the five or six centuries since its construction, the monument has undergone a number of restoration efforts, but has nonetheless managed to retain its charm, beauty and imposing appearance.
Among the architectural innovations making this a mandatory stop for groups on school day trips to France are the flying buttress (which Notre-Dame was one of the first few buildings to utilise) and, of course, the famous gargoyles, perhaps the most immediately distinctive and well-known aspect of the cathedral. These grotesque statues, frequent in Gothic architecture as water-spouts, are notable in this particular cathedral for their sheer volume, which tops that of perhaps any other structure in the world.
The architectonical wonders, however, continue on the inside, with a truly humbling nave and organs. If the group visits at the right time, they will also be treated to a chime of the cathedral’s famous bells, which are themselves world-renowned – and not just as a consequence of Victor Hugo’s work. Also accessible from the cathedral is a set of archaeological crypts, established in the 1960s to protect a range of historical ruins found under the church.
All these reasons and many more make Notre-Dame de Paris a must-see attraction on any school day trips to France.