“Paris is always a good idea.”
~ Audrey Hepburn
Audrey isn’t wrong. You can never go wrong with a student trip to Paris. Whether you’re a history teacher, art teacher, French teacher, band director, or soccer (futbol) coach, you’ll find plenty to marvel at in in the City of Lights. The question is, where do you even start?
For the sake of transparency, I’ve had a love affair with Paris for over 20 years when I was able to take a student tour with my high school. Yes, we used a student travel company (ACIS – pretty sure the school still travels with them) and yes, it was amazing. If I can ever find an excuse to go to Europe, I squeeze in a visit to Paris. It’s my favorite city in the world. So how do I pick a top 5 for this post?!
Because there is SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT, this post is going to focus on the top 5 activities and sites that any type of student tour should include in their Paris trip. This is also a good top 5 for Paris first timers.
There are over 100 museums in Paris. Some are well known. Others are off the beaten path. All are arguably worth a visit. But if you’re in Paris for the first time or only have a few days to explore, you cannot skip the Louvre. It’s here that you’ll see some the most recognizable pieces of art in the world as well as historical artifacts that will blow your students’ minds. The Mona Lisa. Winged Victory. Venus de Milo. The Raft of the Medusa. Hammurabi’s Code. The Lamassu, which date back to 3000BC.
The place is huge. You won’t be able to see everything in your first visit. Or your second or third or fourth. Make sure you talk to your tour operator about a guided visit, if possible. The Louvre is strict about who is allowed to guide inside the museum, but a guide is worth it to maximize your time inside. It is also smart to have done some research before you get there, especially if you opt for a self-guided tour. Have a list of pieces you’d like your group to see and know where they are located. Plan out your route before you get there.
2. Notre Dame
Probably the most famous Gothic cathedral in the world, Notre Dame de Paris is nearly 1000 years old and can be found on the Ile de la Cite, the tiny island in middle of the Seine River. Exploring the island is an adventure in itself, but the main attraction is the cathedral. With its rose windows, flying buttresses, and gargoyles, it’s a bit like wandering through a fairy tale.
Visitors are currently not allowed inside Notre Dame due to the devastating fire back in 2019, but your students will enjoy seeing the cathedral and paying their respects from the exterior. Also, in the plaza in front of the church, is Paris Point Zero. This spot is marked by a small, bronze star and is supposedly the exact center of the city. I was told on my first trip to Paris that if you stand on the star, you’re destined to return to to the city. So I make sure to stand there every time I go!
Sure, the Bateaux Mouches are a bit touristy, but these boats are one of the best ways to see the city and its architecture. Floating along the River Seine, your students will see many of the sites on this list. You’ll have views of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Conciergerie, the Musee D’Orsay (another must see), as well as the many bridges that criss cross the river.
4. Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous monuments in the world and your student group is going to want to see it up close. Most tour operators will arrange tickets for your group. Make sure to request tickets all the way to the top floor for one of the best views of Paris. And you won’t be able to miss the light show the Eiffel Tower puts on nightly. It’s truly beautiful.
5. Eat A Crepe
Okay, so this isn’t a site, but eating is an activity and everyone knows that French food is the best in the world. I can still distinctly remember stepping off my tour bus for the first time in Paris and buying a nutella crepe from a street vendor. It’s a great experience for your students to interact with locals, order food in French, and enjoy a tasty treat at the same time. A crepe a day keeps the jet lag away!
Download the Paris Meeting Flyer and others here.
Disclaimer! Many sites, venues and activities are closed, have limited hours or other various restrictions due to Covid-19. Be sure to check with your tour company and/or the sites themselves for more detailed information.