SSNS Home > Senior Years > Curricula 9-12 > Grade 11 > Canadian History > Battlefields Tour > 24 July 2010


24 July 2010, Saturday
by Raymond Shirritt-Beaumont


We were all up at 3:00 a.m. and on the road by 3:30 a.m. I was riding shotgun for Blake in the front seat of our van, and we talked most of the way to Paris about the tour and the educational opportunities it represented. When dawn approached, I was able to see a little of the countryside, but it soon faded into urban sprawl. We arrived at Terminal 2A at 6:50 a.m., and people dispersed immediately. Leanna and Laura disappeared at once, Lee and Blake left with the vans as soon as they had unloaded, and I barely had time to say good-bye to the remainder of the group before they raced through the gate to the plane. I was entirely alone and feeling a little lost. The last two weeks had gone by in a flash, and it was now over.

A friend picked me up at the airport about an hour later, and he showed me the sights around the city later that day. After the quiet, pastoral scenery of Northern France and Belgium, Paris was a bit of a shock. Not only was the city crowded with its own citizens, but there were tourists like me everywhere. I felt a little closed in at times. Nevertheless, Paris is a beautiful city with history everywhere one looks. I was even reminded of the Battlefields Tour that had absorbed so much of my attention during the previous two weeks. As I stepped under the Arc de Triumphe, I saw a WWI memorial and its eternal flame that honours France’s great sacrifice during the Great War. However, that war seemed far away now, as I became caught up in the scenes around me – Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, the woman singing Edith Piaf favourites on the street. Although it was a brief visit, I appreciated what I saw, and I will go back there again in the future if I can.

I was in Paris until July 27, when I flew to Heathrow Airport in London to meet my wife and children, who were arriving that day to join me for a month of holidays in England, France, and Belgium. Paris had been a wonderful, if short, interlude between the Historica-Dominion Institute Tour and the Family Holiday that would see me again in the WWI battlefields in less than a week’s time.

WWI Memorial under the Arc de Triumphe, Paris
Academie Nationale de Musique
Notre Dame Cathedral from le Pont d’Archeveche on the Seine
Notre Dame Cathedral from la Pont de la Tournelle
Samuel Chantaraud, my guide, a true Parisien
A street singer