15. Exploring Paris

Friday 19 April

We woke up to a beautiful day in Paris, excited for a day of exploring.

We enjoyed a French buffet breakfast of croissants and baguettes, before walking to the Metro. Splitting into groups, our first stop was Montmartre, a beautiful art district, and Sacré-Cœur, an amazing hilltop basilica.

In order to get up there, we had to climb 32 floors of stairs (according to Rochelle’s Apple Watch) just a light work out! However, some opted for the funicular up, and watched on as others struggled up to the top. Everyone was then greeted by stunning views over Paris, which saw many taking the opportunity to snap a few pictures.

Sacré-Cœur was amazing, with its majestic architecture and beautiful music sounding from the Good Friday service. After a short wander around the artist district, where many choristers bought paintings, and some souvenirs, we made our way down back to the Metro heading towards the Eiffel Tower.

The next stop was a river cruise along the Seine, which gave a different perspective of Paris. The cruise featured many monumental icons and the beauty of Parisian vista. We then had the most Parisian experience of all, the busy Metro, all the way back to our accommodation, Fiap.

In the afternoon, we changed into uniform ready to travel to the Arc de Triomphe to sing in the Lighting of the Flame ceremony.

On our way, both the Birralee Blokes and BBV had lovely tour guides on our bus to inform us of important landmarks of the city and significant historical moments in Parisian and French history.

The afternoon marked the first time the choristers would sing in an WWI-related ceremony overseas, so many were keen to perform well. A highlight of the event was being able to perform with another choir: Pulteney Grammar, conducted by the amazing Annie Kwok!

After carefully lining up in rows and having a debrief with both conductors, we marched on and stood under the Arc for the commencement of the ceremony.

The stillness of each moment was only slightly interrupted by the surrounding traffic, but the singers were solely focussed on being present and engaged in the solemn ritual.

Conducted by Annie Kwok for the French National Anthem, we sang with gusto. Later, conducted by Jenny Moon, we sang Danny Boy to conclude the ceremony.

After farewelling the official party and Arc de Triomphe, we were driven to La Marais, the Latin Quarter of Paris, for dinner.

Led by our lovely tour guides to find some of the hotspots, we split to enjoy some dinner time!

Whilst some choristers ventured into restaurants for a seated ‘set-menu’ experience, others filled up on street vendor food like kebabs and falafels.

Some strolled just a little further to see the Notre Dame, just a few days after the tragic fires occurred. Whilst we couldn’t get too close, we could still see the majestic belfries standing in the moonlit sky.

After our meals were heartily completed, we returned via bus to the Fiap Jean Monnet to sleep and recharge for tomorrow!

***

We invite you to keep following our journey of this epic Europe tour!

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