Teachers who choose to take their primary or secondary school classes on school day trips to France will find this country to be one of the prime destinations in Europe for educationally-relevant tourist attractions. The western European country offers something for every field of education, from languages to science and – above all – history. Furthermore, its attractions are far from being gathered in just one place, meaning even groups wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Paris will find enough motives of interest in the countryside for their school day trips to France to be productive.
The Fortified City of Aigues-Mortes
A good example of a ‘hidden gem’ waiting to be discovered by pupils on school day trips to France is the fortified city of Aigues-Morte. The town, despite its obvious historic and touristic interest, continues to be inhabited and functions just like any other, creating an interesting duality that can prove interesting to students visiting from abroad.
Located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, in southern France, Aigues-Mortes is most notable for its remarkably well-preserved medieval battlements, as well as its ties to French history. As such, this location is likely to be particularly relevant for subjects relating to History, and may entice students who favour that particular area of their studies above the others.
A Complex History
Established at an unknown time during the Roman occupation of France, Aigues-Mortes rose to prominence in the Middle Ages. Louis IX used it as his direct point of access to the Mediterranean Sea from Marseilles, located roughly 90km from the town and which at the time belonged to the king’s brother, Charles of Anjou. The king would subsequently build a road connecting Aigues-Mortes to Marseilles, and would later depart for two crusades from this location, including the one that would see him die of dysentery in 1270. An aborted ninth crusade was also planned to depart from this location.
Over the next several centuries, the town continued to serve as an important fortified point in the south of France. In the 15th century, it was at Aigues-Mortes that Phillip the Fair incarcerated and questioned forty Templar knights, and during the Renaissance period it was one of only eight safe havens for French Protestants. In the 19th century, the town was the site of a skirmish between French and Italian salt-marsh workers, which sadly ended in a massacre.
A Continuing Legacy
Nowadays, however, the town’s main motive of interest is the Tower of Constance, a medieval watchtower and base of operations. The surrounding ramparts, which are remarkably well-preserved considering their age, are often the main reason teachers taking their pupils on school day trips to France want to visit the town. Several scenic churches and one other tower, the strategically placed Carbonniére Tower, complete the appeal of this city, which constitutes an excellent alternative for primary and secondary school classes taking history tours of France.