Year 7 had a wonderful experience in France, full of fun, history and culture. Fifteen Year 7 pupils, accompanied by Mrs Bennion, Mr Reeves and Miss Clark, left school in the middle of the night to travel down by coach to Dover. Unbelievably the only person who seemed to get any sleep was Hugo Holmes. After the six hour journey the party boarded the ferry to Calais.
The first visit was to La Coupole, where they arrived earlier than planned so were able to stretch their legs for an hour and enjoy a pleasant woodland walk. It was then into the Planetarium where they had a wonderful 3D film experience, watching a film about space. One or two pupils – and maybe a staff member – also caught up on a little sleep. That evening, they arrived at the accommodation – the lovely Hotel Moulin aux Draps, being greeted by Baky, their energetic animateur. Baky was to accompany all the planned trips and evening activities … apparently he could only speak French, which meant that the pupils had to work hard to learn what was, for some, a new language. After settling in and having supper everyone enjoyed a screening of ‘War Horse’, to gain an understanding of life in the First World War.
Friday was a very interesting and moving day. Year 7 visited Vimy Ridge, where they went into a trench network and underground along some of the tunnels that were actually used in the First World War. The poor sheep there were unaware that they were used to both keep the grass short and detect unexploded ammunition …
The huge memorial at Vimy Ridge really impressed the pupils and was very moving. Wellington Quarry was a very interesting visit –the old underground quarry is part of a network of tunnels used by British troops in the First World War. Everyone wore hard hats and really got a sense of what it must have been like to be waiting down there before the sudden attack on the German front line.
The last visit of the day was to Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery, which is a British cemetery. We found the name of Major Frank Dust, an Old Anselmian. Charlie Bowker, Lizzie Regis and Ava Burton recited some poems from the time of The First World War next to his name.
A treasure hunt carried out in French was a fun way to end the day; it was easy to find a ‘caillou’ if only you knew what it was! It was good to work in a team, with everyone helping each other out.
Saturday was all about food! Pupils really enjoyed the ‘Market Mission’ activity in the most fantastic market at the local town of Boulogne. Everyone had three Euros and worked as a team to purchase items for lunch. The groups worked together impressively well to communicate when buying their food, and stay within the budget whilst buying a delicious and wholesome selection of ingredients.
After a superb lunch they travelled to visit a bakery, where they encountered the ‘angry baker’ – the infamous character which previous S. Anselm’s groups have experienced. Pupils learnt how to make croissants as well as being well entertained!
Next was a stop at the snail farm. This was quite a unique experience! Everyone learnt about the life of a snail and many pupils had snails all over them. Some pupils were adventurous enough to then eat some snails, which had been cooked and prepared three different ways
Sunday was Year 7’s last day in France. They visited the largest Aquarium in Europe. This was an unbelievable experience and a high point for many of our pupils. There was a beautiful beach next to the Aquarium, lunch was had there, and the children spent a very happy hour playing in the sand and paddling in the sea.
Ben Reeves and Charlie Bowker took the lead in collecting rubbish from the beach, filling a bin bag with plastic bottles and other plastic waste. Well done boys!
A disco was a fun way to celebrate the last evening of the trip. Pupils dressed in a French theme and Sofia Xi won the prize for being the best dressed! On Monday everyone made the long journey back home. It was sad to say goodbye to Baky and The Moulin aux Draps.
All the Year 7 pupils on the trip were wonderful company and will doubtless have lots of fantastic memories of their time in Northern France.