After three years, the annual Cape High Paris trip saw a huge increase in travelers, with 39 students and eight adults making the first trip across the pond since before COVID, said French teacher Holly Criswell.
“They’re ready to open up and welcome tourists,” Criswell said, noting she was happy to see her familiar tour guide back to work for the first time since the pandemic began. “It was like seeing an old friend. We were so excited. “
In 2005, Cape launched a travel exchange program with a French sister school that ended in 2013. The current travel program began in 2017 and occurs every two years.
On the last trip in 2019, students were able to see Notre Dame less than a week before the fire that destroyed its spire and part of its ceiling. This year’s visitors were able to see the cathedral under renovation.
Paris follows largely the same COVID rules as America, Criswell said, with masks required on public transit. Some supply chain issues were evident, she said, as selections on store shelves were limited at times.
The spring break trip used to include a visit to Napoleon’s tomb, but students weren’t interested this year, Criswell said.
“He has become like Christopher Columbus – a hero turned villain in France,” she said. “There’s a lot of anti-Napoleon sentiment.”
In all, students walked about six miles a day while they toured the Palais Royal compound from the Middle Ages, La Sainte Chapelle, Le Musée du Chocolat, le Louvre, Versailles, Montmartre with the Sacré Coeur basilica, Musée Arc de Triomphe, les Champs. -Alysées, the Center Pompidou, the Tour Eiffel, the Fragonard Perfume Museum and the Opéra Garnier.
“We also took a cruise on the river Seine to see the city from that perspective,” Criswell said.
Third-year French student Anna Fantoli said she most enjoyed interacting with locals at cafés and experiencing French culture.
“I didn’t think I was going to speak as much French as I did,” she said, noting Parisians would help her communicate if they saw her struggle with the language.
Sophomore Zoey Friday, who is not a French student, said le Pompidou Center, home to the National Museum of Modern Art, was her favorite destination. French architecture and Versailles, though overwhelming with all of its gold and paintings, were beautiful, she said.
Bailey Chzranowski said her favorite part of the trip was relaxing in the hotel with friends after walking around the city all day.
Third-year French students Sophia DeLuca and Kaitlyn Dziak raved about the Parisian McDonald’s, which offered many healthier options and different types of fries than the fast food restaurant does in the US.
“The orange Fanta is to die for,” Sophia said. “It’s like pure orange juice that’s carbonated and refreshing.”
Students enjoyed sampling French cheeses and baked goods, and shopping for rings, purses and natural soaps at street markets.