Colchester Sixth Form College – How We Coped On A Snowy Trip To Paris

Rebecca McGarrigle at Colchester Sixth Form College has been organising history trips with Anglia Tours for over 15 years. Although she is an experienced Group Leader this year Rebecca faced a new challenge – adverse weather conditions, combined with a new destination. Rebecca tells us how her students still enjoyed a colder than expected trip to Paris.

Why do you choose to work with Anglia?

I have traveled with Anglia since 2001 when I was an NQT. I’ve always found them helpful and friendly. I did shop around to get other quotes but other operators getting the itinerary wrong. Anglia will always try to do their best for me, they dot the i’s and cross the t’s. They may not always be the cheapest but you can’t put a price on peace of mind.

What trips do you run with Anglia?

I have taken numerous WW1 Battlefields trips with Anglia and I always organise an annual Holocaust trip to Krakow them. The trip is open to the entire College, not just History students. This year I also took a small group to Paris. We are studying pre-revolutionary France – The Sun King: Louis XIV 1643 – 1715 with the AQA exam board.

How did the Paris trip cover your learning objectives?

Our visits included Place de la Concorde,  the Louvre, Museé de L’Armee and Versailles. It reinforced everything we had studied in the classroom. Walking around Versailles was a particularly memorable moment for the students and has definitely helped towards their exam. All our students felt they got something out of it – it was everything I had talked to them about.

How did Anglia help you in exceptional circumstances on your Paris trip?

Our trip departed at the end of February, right at the time when snow hit the UK and France. As it was taking us longer to get to Paris, our Tour Coordinator Julia Clarke,  started to re-organise our itinerary straight away. She contacted the hotel, changed the visit and meal reservations and kept in touch throughout. The snow was so bad that Julia couldn’t get into the Anglia office herself that day she organised everything from home. It helped so much to know that Julia was there.  I called it ‘Snowmageddon’!

Did the weather affect any of your tour plans in the end?

Because of Julia’s organisation, we  gradually got back on track and then everything was fine. Julia had also given us details of all our Metro routes, stops and timings so we got around Paris just fine.

Would you do the trip again?

Well, you can’t get worse weather than we got this time! Although it was a stressful way to start a brand new trip, particularly when it is to a place you are not familiar with, this is where Julia’s experience really came in. Her knowledge and support were great – she was with us every step of the way! So yes, I would do the trip again.

What are your top tips to other teachers thinking of taking a history trip?

Plan your journeys on public transport in advance and take maps with you. We chose to travel to Paris by Eurostar and then use the Metro, so it really helped that Julia provided us information on the all the Metro routes we were planning to use.

In a city, I don’t give our students any downtime – and in Paris there was so much to do that we were always busy.

Local supermarkets are cheap, so I try to let my students go there to stock up on snacks and drinks. When we have an early start we also like to visit local bakeries in the morning so the students can supplement the hotel breakfast – this works well on our trip to Krakow too..