Paris alternative

Posted: 22 June 2023

Need an Alternative to Paris for a School Trip?

The Olympic Games will be hosted in Paris from 26th July until 11th August 2024 and the city will be incredibly busy both during and in the run-up to the games. Therefore, if you were considering a school trip to Paris in the summer of 2024, you may well like to consider an alternative.

Thankfully, there are some great alternatives to Paris for school trips – here are just a few of our school travel specialists’ favourites.

Brussels

A French-speaking capital city with a reputation for incredible culture, architecture and gastronomy…no, we’re not talking about Paris but Brussels!

The capital of Belgium, Brussels does have two official languages, but French is the most widely spoken of the two. This is a fantastic opportunity for your students to not only immerse themselves in French but also to understand the importance of French as a global language and to discover the diversity of Francophone cultures.

So, French students will love Brussels. It has a café culture to rival Paris and is packed full of incredible art, magnificent architecture and rich culture.

The Grand-Place is the city’s beating heart and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the largest and prettiest squares in Europe, this is the perfect place to start your visit to Brussels.

You’ll also want to visit the iconic Atomium, which represents an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times and was created for the 1958 World Fair. As well as offering an incredible panoramic view of the city from the top ball, there are also some fascinating exhibitions to discover.

And just a short walk from the Atomium, you can visit all of Europe’s greatest attractions in a couple of hours at Mini-Europe – a fitting visit given Brussel's importance at the heart of the European Union.

Brussels is also a great destination for other subjects, such as business studies, food technology and science.

One of the big draws of a school trip to Paris is combining time spent in the French capital with some time at a theme park, such as Disneyland® Paris or Parc Astérix. Brussels offers a similar opportunity – you can complement your visit to the city with a day at Walibi World.

This fantastic theme park is one of the largest and most famous in the country. There are rides here for everyone, from the adrenaline junkies to those who prefer a much more sedate experience, making it a great option for a school group.  

Normandy

If you’re sure you want to go to France, then Normandy could be a great choice for you. Just to the north of Paris, it offers similar journey times and the same opportunity to immerse your students in the French language and culture, but in many different ways.

Normandy, of course, has an historic link with England and students will be fascinated to learn more about this. A really popular visit is, of course, the Bayeux Tapestry which tells the story of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

Showing students how the two countries have been so important in each other’s histories will help them to understand the importance of being able to communicate with and understand the culture of our neighbours, helping to foster their interest in French.

This theme continues in Arromanches, where students will learn more about the Normandy  Landings that marked the beginning of the liberation of France during WW2. This opportunity to explore D-Day means that Normandy is an excellent option for a cross-curricular school trip too.

And if you were interested in introducing your students to the culinary delights of Paris then Normandy makes a fantastic alternative. Normandy is famous for its rolling countryside that features plentiful dairy pastures and orchards.

The dairy pastures have led to Normandy becoming a great centre for cheese production in France – Camembert, Livarot, Pont l’Évêque and Boursin are all produced here, among many others.

And the orchards produce incredible apples and pears that are made into cider, perry and apple brandy, the most famous of which being Calvados.

Normandy is also famous for its seafood, thanks to its rich coastline, and pastries, often packed full of the butter produced by the region’s dairy herds.

This makes Normandy a great alternative to Paris for a food technology school trip, as well as offering French students the chance to explore why food is so integral to French culture. Plus, you can be certain that, whatever your reason for visiting Normandy on a school trip, your students won’t be going hungry!

Opal Coast

If you’re looking for an alternative to Paris that works really well for either French or food technology, then we can highly recommend the Opal Coast.

This spectacular area offers the shortest journey times from the UK, while still offering plenty of incredible food and culture to explore.

The Opal Coast is a 120km stretch of coastline between the Belgian border and the border with Picardy. This is the section of the northern French coastline that sits directly opposite the white cliffs of Dover and is just 34km from them at its closest point.

This area was christened the ‘Opal Coast’ by painter Édouard Lévêque who, along with many other artists, was enchanted by the incredible quality of the light here.

You’ll almost certainly want to visit Boulogne-sur-Mer on your school trip to the Opal Coast. This lovely city is the second-largest in Pas-de-Calais after Calais itself. It’s also the largest fishing port in France. The fortified old town is definitely worth a visit thanks to its many historic monuments, 13th-century ramparts and 12th-century belfry.

Another popular visit with our groups is Nausicaa. This excellent science centre focuses on the relationship between humans and the sea, including the impact of aquaculture, tourism and coastal planning. There’s also plenty of opportunity to see some incredible sea creatures!

There are also some fantastic opportunities here to explore French cuisine – which both French and food technology groups will love. You can visit a traditional bakery, where you’ll find out more about the importance of bread in French culture. You can also visit a chocolaterie or biscuit maker, to find out how these sweet treats are made.

You can even visit a snail farm, where your students will learn all about the delicacy of escargot – they can even try them!

Feeling inspired?

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for any further information you require, or to request a tailor-made quote.

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