Although Albert Camus wrote L’Étranger in Paris, the city only gets a cursory mention in the novel that is studied as part of the French A-Level course. Recounting his experience of living there, the narrator merely says: “It is dirty. There are pigeons and dark courtyards”. Under a bright blue autumnal sky on Saturday 22nd October, nothing could have felt further from the truth when a group of Sixth Form students embarked on a day trip to ‘La Ville Lumière’.
After arriving at Gare du Nord by Eurostar they climbed up to the Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre to admire the view over Paris’s fabled rooftops. The next stop was a pilgrimage to 16 Rue Ravignan, where Camus spent his evenings writing L’Étranger in 1942. With appetite fully piqued, pupils headed off for an independent lunch with the challenge of finding the most gastronomically adventurous dish.
This was won by Marcus Barrett, Nic Cavaliere and Blake Pearce who hunted down a dozen of Burgundy’s finest snails. The group then headed underground to catch the Métro to the Arc de Triomphe, sitting proudly at the top of a bustling Champs-Elysées. A stroll down Paris’s most famous boulevard brought the group to the Musée de l’Orangerie and a moment of calm admiring Monet’s ethereal set of paintings Les Nymphéas.
A stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries and over the Seine took them to the Left Bank and the cafés that formed the nerve centre of post-war intellectual life in Europe’s most philosophically minded city. The students took the opportunity to buy some reading material in the bookshop next to Café de Flore, the perfect purchase before heading back to Gare du Nord and the Eurostar home.