Voices of Birralee’s Western Front Centenary Choir has arrived in France, ready for a massive 10 day adventure.
The main purpose of the trip, of course, is our commitment to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to sing at the 100th anniversaries of the Battle of Fromelles and Pozieres.
First though, there’s a bit of time to get over the jetlag, and a great way to adapt to a new time zone is to just dive straight into exploring the stunning sights of Paris.
By lunch time, on Day One, most of the choristers had reached the check point – our accommodation, where we’ll be staying for the next two nights. Some took the chance to explore Paris, and discovered that it’s too easy to accidentally stumble across stunning historical sites.
Margie and Josh found the unexpected treasure, Archives Nationales, Isabelle and Codie found Notre-Dame de Paris, while another group, which included Amirah, explored the famous Père Lachaise cemetery.
The cemetery, which opened in 1804, is the largest in Paris, and one where many notable people are buried.
‘It was really interesting to see how different people are remembered and also to see the many memorials to holocaust victims and French resistance fighters from World War Two. The graveyard itself is really quite beautiful with long cobble-stoned pathways and lovely trees providing shade and a forest-like atmosphere. Other notable people we found were Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Chopin and Bellini.’
– Amirah Farrell
Being 14 July, Bastille Day, some of the group found perfect vantage points for the military parade along the Champs-Elysées. A proud moment was viewing Australian and New Zealand troops marching with the French. Such an incredible sight for our choristers to remind them of the respect held between the two countries – a great prelude to what’s coming up for the choristers during this trip!
In the evening, the popular choice was to watch the fireworks as part of the national holiday, with some walking to the Trocadéro to ensure an awesome view of the River Seine and of the Eiffel Tower. The view was fabulous, shared with a busy crowd with such an electric vibe. The choristers felt very safe being out and about, with so much police presence and serious security checks.
Overall, it was an exceptional fireworks and music display, and when the Eiffel Tower was lit with the French flag’s blue, white and red, Amirah, Belinda, Chris, Isabelle, Margie, Josh and Andy joined in to sing the French National Anthem, La Marseillaise. A great chance to test out the anthem, backed by a trillion French patriots.
Upon navigating back to the hotel on Paris’ metro, we heard the horrific news from Nice. We were so glad to get back to the hotel safe and sound – knowing it is something that cannot be taken for granted. Our thoughts are with those affected by this tragic event.
Overall, our choristers are in good spirits as they get ready for Day Two, which will include a performance at the stunning La Madeleine Church. They will support fellow Australian choir from Newcastle, The Hunter Singers.