From the martyrdom of St. Denis to the massacre of the Communards, fourteen intrepid Upper Sixth Form Oundle School historians endured the cold December air to take a journey through Parisian history at the start of the Christmas holidays.
After beginning with the tales of Montmartre, the trip followed the footsteps of France's patron saint to his shrine. There the group visited the ancient tombs of the kings of France, set amidst the geometric beauty of the world's first complete Gothic edifice. This style, the architectural hallmark of the Capetian dynasty, is woven into the fabric of the city, and the trip took in the pinnacle of the movement by visiting the translucent, stained glass walls of the Sainte Chapelle. These masterpieces of medieval art were complemented by afternoons viewing the art collections of the Louvre and the Musée D'Orsay.
History teacher and trip leader, Jonny Allard commented, “Paris is a city with a dark history. A trip to the tower of John the Fearless evoked the memories of the civil strife of the fifteenth century, the bells of Notre Dame tolled as they did for the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre and a stop at the site of Henry IV's assassination brought home the bitter religious struggles witnessed by the city. Just as the years of revolution loom dark over French history, so too do their remnants intrude upon Paris, from the gloomy cells of the Conciergerie to the innocuous outline of the former Bastille and the immense tomb of their most famous offspring: Napoleon I.“
The trip concluded with a tour of the palace of Versailles. Magnificent in their opulence, the rooms which had once seen the birth and death of imperial Germany, home to kings who brought about the revolution, were a fitting place to end a tour of the beauty and the bloodiness of Parisian history.
Pupil, Josh Allen (18) commented, “Everything about the Parisian history trip, from the culture to the beauty of the city including the vastness of Sainte-Chappelle and Saint Denis, helped me in a practical sense to appreciate and understand the historical times I have been studying.”
Pupil, Alice Smith (18) added, “Paris is such a beautiful city at Christmas time. Visiting the outskirts of Paris to see the Cathedrale of Saint Denis, which is the resting place of many queens and kings of France, brought to life our studies. For me a highlight of the trip was visiting the Sainte-Chapelle gothic chapel with its breath-taking stained glass windows. Seeing the places where significant events took place really helped give us a deeper understanding and interest in our course.”