À Paris avec St Augustine’s Priory (Part I)

Posted: 17th May 2018

 Lower IV and Upper IV embrace La France. 

Monday 14th May dawned bright and early for twenty-two Lower IV and Upper IV pupils and four members of staff.  They had all managed to get themselves by 5.00a.m. to St Augustine’s Priory where a coach was waiting to whisk them off to St Pancras station to catch the Eurostar to Paris.

This was the second half of the first exchange visit between Ste Marie de Neuilly and St Augustine’s Priory.  Two weeks ago over twenty of their pupils had spent several days in London, staying with their penpals’ families and enjoying classes in school and visits to London and Windsor.

Now it was our turn!

Ste Marie occupies the site in Neuilly where our school was located from 1862 until 1911 when the convent and school relocated to England and we were delighted to have the opportunity to visit the site where our forebears were taught and the Augustinians Canonesses of the Lateran lived.

On arrival at Ste Marie our girls took part in lessons for the day with their penpals after which they were collected by their host families for the night.  During the evening several of the families took their visitors on tours of Paris by night – much appreciated and enjoyed by our pupils.

On the next day we all met at Ste Marie and walked to the Metro station where we set off for Versailles.  This magnificent palace built by Louis XIV is an extraordinary monument to the French monarchy and contains room after room of treasures and splendour.  The world-famous Hall of Mirrors was a high point of the visit, an amazing room where a line of mirrors faces a row of windows overlooking beautiful gardens and grounds.

The palace was packed with visitors and after exiting the palace we all settled down in a courtyard to eat our packed lunches.

Allowing some time for shopping in the souvenir shops we travelled back to Neuilly, via a stop at the Eiffel Tower, for a well-earned night’s rest.

Wednesday was another day of activity.  After lessons in the morning we all gathered once more at Ste Marie to walk to the Metro to travel into Paris for the day.   We walked from the Metro to Notre Dame, the beautiful medieval cathedral on the Île de la Cité.  Crossing over the River Seine we settled to eat our packed lunches on the banks of that river, waving to the passing river cruises as they journeyed along.  We then walked through some of the picturesque streets of St Germain stopping at a shop filled with macaroons, cakes and sweets.  Too irresistible to pass by!

Now it was time for the highlight of the day as we boarded a Bateau Mouche to enjoy a cruise on the River Seine.  The weather was perfect and we sat on the top deck as the informative guide regaled us stories of the sights we passed and the bridges we sailed under.

The extraordinary and sometimes turbulent history of Paris unfolded before our eyes as we sailed past the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the French Academy, the Place de la Concorde the Musée d’Orsay and many other places that are so familiar from pictures and programmes.

After disembarking we walked past the Louvre on our way to the Metro to return to Ste Marie.  On arrival we quickly collected our suitcases and we were off to catch the bus to the Gare du Nord for the Eurostar to London, arriving late at night at North Ealing Station.

This was a wonderful visit, our hosts at Ste Marie treating us with immense generosity and great hospitality.  Ms Gandi is to be congratulated for contributing so much to the success of this first of our exchange programmes with Ste Marie and Mr Alejandro and Ms Kumarasinghe supported the visit with great enthusiasm and hard work!

But we must congratulate all the girls, both from Ste Marie de Neuilly and from St Augustine’s Priory who entered with such enthusiasm and joie de vivre into this enterprise, making it most definitely a tour de force!

Categories: Priory Post Senior The Association Whole School