The romance and beauty of Paris has always proved an irresistible draw to artists, art collectors and historians, making it an obvious choice for teachers looking to bring the works of the great masters to life. Not only does Paris have a fantastic range of museums and galleries that highlight work from across history, but the city itself exudes an atmosphere of genuine creativity.
On a school trip, your students will be able to walk streets trodden by Gauguin, Pissarro, Manet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, CÃ©zanne and Matisse, and then see their representations of the city they loved. Design students will not only love the modern art in the famous Pompidou Centre, but will be inspired by the cutting-edge design of the building itself.
While there is never enough time to see all of the works in Paris, a four-day school trip would be a great way to introduce students to the major exhibition spaces here. Hereâ€™s my suggestion for museums and works to put at the top of your must-see list.
A great place to start your exploration of Parisâ€™ art history is at its most famous (and popular) gallery, The Louvre. Housed in the historic Louvre Palace, it is a vast space dedicated almost entirely to European works from the fourteenth to nineteenth century. The 60,000sqm of exhibition space really deserves a full day of your school trip.
While most students will want to head straight for Leonardo da Vinciâ€™s Mona Lisa, try and encourage them to look around, as thereâ€™s plenty more here to catch their eye. Works by Michelangelo, including the sculpture of the Dying Slave and his painting of the Death of the Virgin, Van Dyckâ€™s Charles I, La Belle JardiniÃ¨re by Raphael, and Bathsheba at her Bath by Rembrandt all demand attention.
The MusÃ©e dâ€™Orsay
Converted from a stunning Beaux-Arts railway station built at the end of the nineteenth century, the MusÃ©e dâ€™Orsay is a breathtaking exhibition space that illustrates the progression of nineteenth-century painters towards Impressionism. From the French Realism of Gustave Courbetâ€™s A Burial at Ornans to Renoirâ€™s Bal du Moulin de la Galette on to the works of Manet, CÃ©zanne, Monet and Van Gough, a visit here is a pleasant walk through nineteenth-century art history.
MusÃ©e de lâ€™Orangerie
Another gallery in a fantastic Parisian space is the MusÃ©e de lâ€™Orangerie, specifically built as a tranquil space to house Monetâ€™s water lilies. There are not many students who can stand in the rooms that house Monetâ€™s water lily series and not feel awed by the scale and technicality of his achievement.
The Pompidou Centre
Not only is the Pompidou Centre home to work by some of the worldâ€™s leading modern artists, but the square in front of the museum is a bustling hub of street entertainers, young Parisians and tourists. GCSE and A-level students will love the lively vibe here and, for those who prefer a modern approach to the old masters, the exhibition will not disappoint. From Rothko and Pollock to Warhol and Man Ray into contemporary artist like Thomas Hirschhorn, this gallery will not fail to stimulate studentsâ€™ imaginations.
There is so much to see on a school trip to Paris that it is definitely worth letting a specialised educational travel tour operator organise your trip for you. From sorting out gallery opening times, tickets and special exhibitions to arranging central accommodation and places to eat, a specialist tour operator will take the stress out of organising a residential so that you can concentrate on encouraging your students to engage with this inspiring city.
John Gardiner is the Managing Director of The School Travel Company, a tour operator specialising in school trip itineraries for school and youth groups to the UK, Europe and beyond. As a father and avid traveller, John is very passionate about providing students with valuable and engaging learning experiences outside of the classroom. By sharing his expert advice with teachers, he allows them to inspire their students and bring their studies to life.
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