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2012 WCE/SCHS April France Trip Report

We will post emails and pictures for 2012 WCE SCHS April France Student Trip to Paris, Angers, and Tours, France as we receive them! Encourage your friends to view the WCE Web Site and follow the trip!!!

2012 WCE/SCHS France Paris, Angers, and Tours Trip

4/20/2012 Friday (Seattle) Our 15 Member SCHS France Student Delegation led by Madame Peters (SCHS Staff), Mr. Berkbigler (SCHS Staff), and Ms. Worrell (SCHS Staff) departed a little late from Seattle and is flying directly to Paris. This Student Delegation will visit Paris, Angers, and Tours, France. Lycée Sacré Coeur in Angers has invited SCHS Students for a School Visit and a Friendship Exchange. While in Paris our Students will visit The Arc de Triomphe, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, The Eiffel Tower, Musée d'Orsay, Musée du Louvre, Notre Dame de Paris, La Sainte-Chapelle, Basilique Sacré-Coeur, spend a day at Château de Versailles, and much more! While in Angers our delegation will visit Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, Château Angers, and visit Lycée Sacré Coeur for a School visit and Friendship Exchange and in Tours they will visit Château of Chenonceau and Château of Chambord. Pictures and emails will be posted on this page during the trip. Mr. Berk has sent us our first picture just prior to take off!

4/21/2012 Saturday (Paris Time 7:00 PM Seattle Time 10:00 AM) We have just spoken with Eimad (our exceptional drive/guide in France) and Eimad informed us that our SCHS France Delegation has arrived safely in Paris. Today our delegation enjoyed the Paris Grand Bus Tour (a two hour bus journey to familiarize members with the locations of major sites of Paris including the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Trocadéro, the Eiffel Tower, Musée du Louvre, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, Musée d'Orsay, Concorde, and more); ate lunch at a local café; checked into the Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel Hotel; dinner; and will sleep early tonight (after their long day of travel to Paris). The adventure has begun!

4/22/2012 Sunday (Paris Time 11:50 PM Seattle Time 2:50 PM) Today was an election day in France adding more excitement for our SCHS Student Delegation touring Paris. After their outstanding Buffet Breakfast at the Novotel Tour Eiffel Hotel our Students took a short walk (only about 15 minutes) along the Seine River to the Eiffel Tower. Madame Peters had planned for a morning visit as it is much less crowded in the morning. Although today was a cloudy day it is a spectacular view as you can easily see most of Paris. This gives you another view of Paris after the Grand Bus Tour of Paris on the previous day. Lunch was on a Street named Rue Cler, recommended by Rick Steves, that has markets and cafés. In the afternoon the delegation visited Musée d'Orsay on the left bank of the Seine, housed in the former railway station, and best known for its extensive collection of impressionists. One could easily spend several days in Musée d'Orsay. Tomorrow they will visit the world famous Musée du Louvre, renowned Notre Dame de Paris, and celebrated La Sainte-Chapelle. It will be another magnificent day! We have our first email from Mr. Berk with PICTURES, “Sunday the SC delegation got up early and walked to the Eiffel Tower. We braved the winds and experienced Paris from the height of the tower. We were all amazed. We then walked to the Rodin Museum passed the Invalides. After Rodin we had a chance to appreciate Impressionist painting in the Musée d'Orsay--some of the best and most famous paintings of Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, and Van Gogh. The museum is a converted train station--much like the train station setting for the recent movie, Hugo. Today we are going to the Louvre, Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame...and shopping.”

4/23/2012 Monday (Paris Time 4:00 PM Seattle Time 7:00 AM) Madame Peters has sent us a quick note, "We are having a GREAT TIME IN PARIS!!!" Today our SCHS Student Delegation started the day by touring Musée du Louvre, or officially the Grand Louvre — in English, is one of the world's largest museums and the most visited museum in the world with nearly 35,000 pieces of art. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre - 652,300 square feet). One would need a life time to view everything in The Louvre. For lunch our Students visited a small café for a sandwich and crepes. In the afternoon our delegation visited Notre Dame de Paris (in English: Our Lady of Paris) widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in France and in Europe and La Sainte-Chapelle ("The Holy Chapel") renowned for its stain glass windows. Tomorrow our SCHS Students will visit Versailles! We have received another update from Mr. Berk with more pictures, “Monday in Paris. Started with the Louvre with just over 2 hours to absorb over 2 thousand years of paint and sculpture! No student collapsed, but many were overwhelmed...we all survived. Lunched on the Left Bank at a restaurant near the fountain/statue of St. Michel. In the Parisian rain we walked to Notre Dame and we were all quietly awed by the size of the church and the colors of light coming through the rose windows. About half of the delegation then went shopping while the other half went to the top of Notre Dame's bell towers to look at Paris from the heights of Notre Dame. We were almost in the clouds alongside of gargoyles and in the footsteps of the most famous fictional Parisian, Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame. Tomorrow to Versailles for the whole day--we are hoping for sunshine!”

4/24/2012 Tuesday (Paris Time 8:00 PM Seattle Time 11:00 AM) Rick Steves suggests that if you only visit one palace in Europe make it Versailles. Today our SCHS Students took the RER (train), only a 30 minute ride from the hotel, to visit Château de Versailles every King’s dream palace. Versailles offers three epic attractions: the lavish stunning Palace called the Château, superb expansive Gardens directly behind the Palace, and the Trianon/Domaine a pastoral place with several small palaces including Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet. Our delegation spent all day at Versailles as they marveled at the Hall of Mirrors, enjoyed over 400 marble and bronze statues, viewed the splendid fountains some are set in action to music, and of course reveled in the History. Although the Château de Versailles is one of Europe’s foremost attractions today the Palace still serves political functions. Heads of state are regaled in the Hall of Mirrors; the Sénat and the Assemblée nationale meet in congress in Versailles to revise or otherwise amend the French Constitution. Tomorrow our Students will travel to Angers! We have received another quick email from Madame Peters, “Versailles was fantastique we did it all Versailles Chateau, le Grand Trianon; le Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette`s Hamlet. The kids were great we walked all over, lots of walking but only enthusiasm from the kids, not one complaint great day!” And we have received an email from Mr. Berk with a few more PICTURES!, “We were able to get up a little later today, have breakfast and then take the half hour train out to Versailles--within an hour of leaving the hotel at 10 am we were in line for Versailles. The snaking line of hundreds moved surprisingly fast. Even though the interior of the Chateau Versailles was crowded, there was a smooth flow of people through the various royal rooms. The Hall of Mirrors and the ceilings were especially spectacular for all of us. Outside there was an alternation of sunshine and wind swept rain. At points we were rained and blown on by a strong wind, and at other points the spring flowers were matched by sunny warm weather. We visited the medium and the smaller sized royal homes after eating a picnic style lunch near the grand water canal or reflecting pool (a reflecting pool the length of many football fields). We finished off the visit by touring Marie Antoinette's little hamlet, a pretend village that was created for arie Antoinette's free afternoons. Tomorrow we leave fairly early for Chartres cathedral, Angers' castle, and our school visit in Angers.”

4/25/2012 Wednesday (Angers Time 5:00 PM Seattle Time 8:00 AM) Our SCHS Student Delegation is now in Angers and residing at the BEST WESTERN Hotel d'Anjou. Our Students departed for Angers southwest of Paris on a 3 hour scenic drive. Eimad, our outstanding driver/guide, enriched our delegation with stories and history. The main stop on the drive from Paris to Angers was a visit to Chartres Cathedral (full name Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres) located in the medieval town of Chartres, about 50 miles from Paris. Not only is Chartres Cathedral one of the greatest achievements in the history of architecture, it is almost perfectly preserved in its original design and details. After lunch and after arriving in Angers, our Students visited Château Angers (The original fortress at Angers was constructed because of the strategic position next to the Maine River, in a position that was earlier occupied by the Romans for the same reason.). The delegation checked into the BEST WESTERN Hotel d'Anjou (only 7 minutes from their school visit). For dinner Madame Peters will meet with Mr. Stephane Catalano (Teacher) Lycée Sacré Coeur, Angers to finalize the details of tomorrow’s school visit. Traveling through the French Countryside has added another excellent experience to the SCHS Student trip to France. We have just received our daily report from Mr. Berk with more PICTURES, "Wednesday in France. We departed from Paris in the rain and wind to arrive in Chartres one hour later. The drive was through beautiful and unspoiled farmland and countryside. Chartres rose out of the plain as a picturesque vision of a medieval town and cathedral. The inside of the cathedral was a bit cold, but the light through the stained glass of blues, reds, purples, and other colors made a strong impression on all. The students ate pizza which rivaled or exceeded American style pizza for lunch. From Chartres we drove to the Loire Valley--traditional hunting grounds, summer chateaus, and refuge of French kings. The castle of Angers is what you expect from an 800 year old stone castle--the students were thrilled to be in something so old and cinematic...the walls overlook the river on one side and a moat on the other. The moat is now a garden of planted flowers, daisies and fruit trees. The strong winds have blown the cherry and apple blossoms off of the trees and created a bed of pink blossoms in the former moat. In the castle the students were awed by the longest surviving medieval tapestry in France. The Apocalypse tapestry is centuries old and faded, but the visual stories are clear and understandable. Tomorrow is our visit at a secondary school in Angers. It will be an opportunity for our students to practice their French by conversing with French students about American and French culture--especially the clichés that our students have about France and their students have about America.”

4/26/2012 Thursday (Tours Time 6:00 PM Seattle Time 9:00 AM) The School Visit and Friendship Exchange at Lycée Sacré Coeur, Angers is the highlight of the SCHS Students Trip to France. Today at Lycée Sacré Coeur the School Visit included attending an English Class where Students could communicate in English, French, or both. Thus our SCHS Students were able to establish friendships and will be able to stay in contact with their French Counter Parts well into the future. The SCHS Students were also able to visit other classes as well as tour the school. The Friendship Exchange included taking photos, exchanging gifts as well as email addresses, and discussing life at a public school in Shoreline, WA and life at a private school in Angers, France. After lunch in Angers, our delegation traveled to Tours, France and checked into Hotel IBIS Tours Centre Gare. They are currently having dinner in Tours. We have received another report from Mr. Berk, “We started the day with a petite dejeuner at the Angers hotel—four types of French cheeses, fruits, 3 types of bread, jams and jellies in small glass containers--a wonderful way to wake up on our most important day. Today was our school visit at the Lycée Sacre Coeur. We toured the school and then split into 2 groups--one to converse with students and the other group to go to classes. Our students had lunch in the town center with the French students that they had met at the school. The school visit was such a success that many of our students wished that we could stay the afternoon and even an additional day in Angers. However, we had to move on to chateau land in the Loire Valley. We traveled a few back roads to find Chateau Usse. Chateau Usse is the castle that inspired "La Belle au Bois Dormant" or the original sleeping beauty story. The tale was written down by Charles Perrault in the late 1600s. We looked at the chateau from a small bridge over a small river. The enchantment of the chateau led us to the riverbanks where a few students discovered and then tried to capture frogs, a colorful lizard and a dragon fly. It was our afternoon to play a little bit and relax as we entered the final third of our voyage through France. Tomorrow we go to the famous chateaus of Chambord and Chenonceau. We lunch in Amboise—the French home of Leonardo Da Vinci where he worked for and talked with King Francis I.” And more PICTURES!

4/27/2012 Friday (Tours Time 5:45 PM Seattle Time 8:45 AM) Today in the morning our SCHS Students visited the Château of Chenonceau, after Versailles the most visited Château in France. It is an exceptional site, both in the original idea of building it on the Cher River, and in its destiny: to be loved, managed and protected by women. In the afternoon the delegation visited Château of Chambord surrounded by nature, between the untamed royal river and woodlands. It is the largest and most prestigious of the French Renaissance châteaux. They have now returned to Tours and Hotel IBIS Tours Centre Gare. Dinner this evening in Tours and tomorrow our Students will return to Paris for last minute sightseeing and shopping. We have received more pictures and a detailed review of breakfast from Mr. Berk, “We have become more realistic in terms of our breakfast choices now that we all have been in France for a week of buffet breakfasts. In the beginning we ate as if we were on an endless holiday. In each hotel there were selections of croissants, chocolate croissants, crepes, tarts, waffles, fresh breads, jams and jellies, cereals, fruits, cheeses, sliced meats, yogurts, juices (apricot, orange, apple) and more based on what each hotel had to offer. This morning most of us were modest—we ate just a couple of crepes or a bit of toast or some fruit (a kiwi or two) or a bowl of cereal. Their dishes were not heaped with food, and I could actually see the plates underneath what students chose for breakfast! Those who drink hot chocolate, tea, or coffee still had their fill of a warm drink. Our destination this morning was Chateau Chambord—an extravagant royal hunting chateau that has a forest of towers in the midst of a natural forest. Five hundred years ago the king of France enclosed the forest in a 20-mile long and 8-foot high fence. This was to make sure that the king and his friends could find animals to hunt when they were down from Paris on holiday. After lunch in Amboise (French home for Leonardo da Vinci) we traveled to Chateau Chenonceau. The gentle white towers, the more modest size, and the well maintained gardens illustrate why Chenonceau has been known for centuries as the female chateau. The overbearing size and towers of Chambord make it the male chateau. Within about 24 hours we have seen Chambord, Chenonceau, the royal fortress of Chateau Ambois, and Chateau Usse. You will find us to be experts on chateaus when we return! In between chateaus we have eaten and shopped a lot!”

4/28/2012 Saturday (Paris Time 8:55 PM Seattle Time 11:55 AM) Today our SCHS Students returned to Paris and checked back into the Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel Hotel. Their last day in Paris the delegation visited the Basilique Sacré-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) a Roman Catholic church and familiar landmark in Paris, located on the highest point of the city in Montmartre the second most visited site in Paris, a picturesque and remarkable village, countless artists, and tourist shops for great shopping. Tomorrow the delegation will return to Seattle. For Parents Meeting the Delegation tomorrow: First check (call Delta Airlines at 1-800-241-4141 or go online at www.delta.com and check the Flight Status of Delta Airlines Flight #614) to make sure the flight is on time. We will meet the delegation at Baggage Claim. We will see you at the airport tomorrow. We have received our last report from Mr. Berk, “We each had a choice for the afternoon--either Mont Martre or the Paris Catacombs. Most chose the Catacombs where millions of bones were placed in the 19th century. The cemeteries of Paris had filled up so at the end of the 18th century and into the 19th century the bones of long dead Parisians were stacked beneath 30-60 feet of ground just outside of Paris--now under a bustling neighborhood. None of the students complained about waiting in the rain--they were excited and had fresh pastries or a sandwich from a local bakery as a light lunch. After walking through the tunnels and then between stacks of millions of bones student expectations were exceeded--the bones were a hit with all. Fortunately we balanced the bones walk with a walk through the Luxembourg gardens. The Luxembourg gardens are one of the most pleasant places in all of Paris--and the setting for important scenes in Les Miserables. Although we were tired we walked until we found Creperie des Artes for dinner. Students chose from a menu of dozens of different types of crepes. A cat watched us as we ate. It was really nice to hear the students laughing and joking with each other about various highlights (and struggles with the weather) on our voyage through France. We are winding down and packing to come home. See you soon at the airport! We return safe and sound and with many experiences that will live with us for a long time to come.”

4/29/2012 Sunday Seattle - Welcome Home!

2012 WCE/SCHS France Paris, Angers, and Tours Trip Pictures

WCE Reminder:

If you receive an exciting email or picture from one of our delegation members, please forward the email or picture to the Washington Cultural Exchange Office and we will post it! Our email address is start@wce.org.