The first time that young learners set off on their primary school trips is a moment many of them will remember for years to come, filled with excitement, curiosity and perhaps a little trepidation. So it is important for educators to choose a destination that satisfies the former feelings and tempers the latter. Normandy is a perfect example of a place that does just that: different and new enough to challenge children’s perceptions of the world, but close enough to home not to feel too strange. Whether or not they have been abroad before, this is a chance to dip into another culture with the safety net of their school friends and teachers around them – and the area is bursting with enough history, art and life to keep them absorbed and fascinated for the duration of their stay. Here are just some of the activities and attractions that await school groups that choose to visit this fascinating region.
For a wonderful introduction to Normandy, head to beautiful Honfleur Harbour on the Seine estuary. This old port town is both picturesque and quintessentially French, giving young visitors a pleasant first taste of the world they are entering on their primary school trips. With its slate-fronted houses, old wooden church, and white boats lined up along the quay, it could make a great opportunity for students to get out their sketchbooks and follow in the footsteps of famous artists who have painted these very scenes – including Monet, Courbet and Boudin. The Vieux Honfluer museum offers a glimpse into the town’s history, providing insight into the lives of those who lived there in centuries gone by.
Undoubtedly the region’s most famous attraction, the Bayeux Tapestry is a vitally important historic artefact for both England and France, dating back to the time of the Norman conquests that it depicts. The connections between Normandy and England may not previously have been immediately apparent to students, but by visiting this tapestry and discussing its significance, their understanding of this shared history will be greatly enhanced. As well as showing the key events of the conquest, the tapestry also offers invaluable windows onto the lives of ordinary people at the time. Leaders of primary school trips can take advantage of the educational room and its resources to enhance what is already an eye-opening experience for their classes.
If teachers ask their students, before setting off on their primary school trips, what France is famous for, at least one answer is bound to be ‘the food’. With this in mind, Normandy is a great place to not only try some of this renowned cuisine, but to let students try their hand at making some of their own! Why not visit a boulangerie offering bread-making sessions, and come away with fresh-baked bread as well as new knowledge about the science of baking all.