On Feb. 23, 34 students from Valley Regional High School (VRHS) returned from the trip of a lifetime to Paris, France. The students and chaperones (including VRHS French teacher and trip coordinator Kate Wheaton, Kevin Lam, Peg Meehan, and Desiree Fallavollita) stayed at Hôtel Palais Bourbon in Paris's 7th Arrondissement.
The group visited the Invalides, Musée Rodin, the Eiffel Tower, l'Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, Musée d'Orsay, the Roman Baths, Chinatown, and Père Lachaise, among other attractions and enlightening exhibitions.
Different parts of the trip impacted the travelers in different ways to. To VRHS senior Sarah Burzin, Notre Dame was the high point, as it was, to her, "unlike anything I've seen before."
Paris's Chinatown was an extraordinary experience for the travelers as they made their way through the area on the outskirts of Paris in the 13th Arrondissement. As it had been the Chinese New Year the weekend before their visit, Chinatown was filled with New Year's decorations and the atmosphere was cheery. An area of Paris new to Wheaton (who lived in Paris as a university student, then moved to Paris for some time after graduating), Chinatown proved that the city is full of endless discovery and opportunity.
A major highlight of the trip was a "humbling" visit to Normandy, according to Valley senior Isaac Siegel. There, students walked the beaches upon which soldiers stormed on D-Day, June 6, 1944. They also visited the Caen War Memorial representing the entire history of World War II and peace, from which Wheaton said, "all you can see is white crosses and Jewish stars" on the 9,900 graves of soldiers.
For Siegel, "the immense feeling of pride mixed with the struggle of holding back tears" after viewing the countless graves of soldiers, some unknown, was reason enough for Normandy to be the best part of the trip.
At Père Lachaise Cemetery, the group visited the graves of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde. At the gravesite of Morrison, the students and chaperones encountered an interesting situation. A woman had traveled from Brazil to Paris to see Morrison's grave. Upon arrival (as witnessed) the woman sat on Morrison's grave and had her friend take a picture, when suddenly a man dressed in a suit jumped from behind another grave singing Morrison's lyrics. When he came to a break in the song he informed the woman that she would be fined 400 euros for trespassing. The woman, and the students alike, were in shock. The man was security, and seemingly appeared out of thin air having remained concealed among the graves. An interesting security tactic indeed, to sing the fine, on the singer's grave.
During their eight-day stay, students were exposed to French culture and language on the streets, in shops, in museums, in restaurants, everywhere. Immersion is considered to be the finest form of education, and the trip to Paris was just that. Enjoyed by all, the trip was nothing short of "parfait."
For further insight on the French trip visit www.vrhsfrenchtrip.weebly.com.
Morgan Hines is a senior at Valley Regional High School.