This song title isn’t strictly appropriate, as the biennial Sixth Form French pilgrimage to our spiritual home actually took place in mid-February. But the weather gods were so provident that it may as well have been. Indeed, the City of Light lived up to its name as 12 A-level students spent five days with Mr Chillingworth and Mrs Harrison in radiant sunshine. Fitbits went into meltdown as we drank deep in the key landmarks of Parisian cultural heritage, from the Champs Elysées to Montmartre, via the lush Impressionist treats of the Musée d’Orsay and the Gothic splendour of Notre Dame Cathedral. There were several opportunities to research the A level topics, and those who sought it even had time for some retail therapy.
Interaction in French was the order of the day, despite all Parisians seemingly being pre-programmed to switch into English at the slightest soupçon of Anglo-Saxon infiltration! And despite warnings from the Foreign Office, our attempts to witness the spirit of 1968 reincarnated in the Gilet Jaune protestors were thwarted, alas, as it appears that contemporary French protestors only come out at the weekend!
No Chetham’s trip would be complete without some musical input. A tour of the original (and best, according to most) Opéra Garnier was followed by a trip to see the Orchestre de Paris perform Berlioz’ gargantuan Grande Messe des Morts in his 150th anniversary year, complete with four brass choirs, ten timpanists and a massed choir of 170!
On a slightly more intimate scale, the final evening was given over to the famous Caveau de la Huchette jazz club recently popularized in the movie La La Land. And never ones to turn down a chance to perform, the students joined an indigenous busker in an impromptu rendition of the unofficial Chets anthem Don’t Look Back in Anger! Despite the impressive improvised harmonies, which are, incidentally, readily available to view on the @ChetsLanguages twitter feed, our participation did nothing to enhance his income, sadly…