Bonjour! Once again, students, parents and friends in Giles County had the opportunity to travel the world during spring break. This year, we enjoyed visiting France, Switzerland and Germany while also traveling through Austria, Liechtenstein and England. Let me tell you all about it!

First, we flew into England for a short layover before landing in Paris, the City of Light. Our tour director met us at the airport, and we were off on our sightseeing adventure! We also connected with our other travel group from Michigan for dinner at a local restaurant. We finally made it to our hotel for a well-deserved night’s sleep. 

During Spring Break 2024, students, parents, teachers and friends spent nine days exploring France, Switzerland and Germany, with other stops along the way. Emily Clark Kirkpatrick / Submitted 

The next morning we took a scenic boat ride on the Seine River where we saw all the sights. We then enjoyed free time for lunch where many of us shopped and dined in the cutest Parisian cafés. After lunch, we visited Les Invalides, a museum relating to the military history of France. This is also where Napoleon was entombed under the Dome of the Invalides in 1840. We made our way to a local restaurant to feast on savory and sweet crepes. They were delicious! We ended the night by seeing the spectacular sparkle of the Eiffel Tower. We oohed and aahed as the twinkling lights lit up the night sky. It was magical!

The following day we rode around Paris with a local guide for a bus tour. We saw the Place de la Concorde, ChampsÉlysées, Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower. Next, our groups split, with two groups visiting the Palace of Versailles and one group enjoying free time and climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Versailles is a former royal residence commissioned by King Louis XIV. We learned all about the history of the Palace and the famous people who lived there. We even walked through the famous “Hall of Mirrors,” which was a sight to see! It’s a long hall filled with mirrors on one side and windows on the other. And the GOLD! It was fabulous. We ended the day with a little free time to shop, eat more crepes, and some of us sampled the French McDonalds before going to dinner. 

Emily Clark Kirkpatrick / Submitted 

We were up bright and early to take a day train from Paris to Switzerland, where the majestic Swiss Alps rise behind the shores of Lake Lucerne and provide the stunning backdrop to one of Switzerland’s most picturesque cities. This was many of the travelers’ first time on a high-speed train, mine included. It was a very comfortable four-hour ride where we were able to nap and play cards. On arrival, we took a quick walking tour of Zurich and then had some free time to explore and try some more new foods! I saw any kind of luxury car you can think of: Bentley, Mercedes, BMW, Maserati, Audi, Jaguar, Porsche and more! We checked into our hotel and had a great dinner before heading to bed. 

We woke up to a cold and rainy morning and started our journey to Lucern. We had scheduled a gondola ride up the mountain, but it was canceled due to the weather. Our AMAZING tour director rebooked us a cog railway up Rigi mountain that also included a boat ride into Lucern. The more we went up the mountain, the rain turned to snow, and boy was it WINDY! White-out snow conditions greeted us on the top of the mountain. We took a quick look around and headed back down Rigi Mountain where we hopped on a boat to get to Lucern. By the time we got to the bottom of the mountain, the weather was beautiful! It was sunny and much warmer! We spent the rest of the day seeing beautiful flowers, lots of cuckoo clocks and the quaint little Swiss town with the Lion Monument, or Löwendenkmal, a sandstone statue commemorating the Swiss Guards slain during the 1792 Paris storming of the Tuileries. That evening was the highlight of my trip. We went to a nearby town and had a traditional Swiss evening. The family that hosted us had many games for us to play, swiss music and a photo station. Our dinner included a traditional Swiss meal, including fondue. 

Emily Clark Kirkpatrick / Submitted 

With our bellies full, we went to bed to prepare for our journey to Germany the next day. We traveled through small, picturesque towns with beautiful scenery along the way. We stopped to get our passports stamped in Liechtenstein, the sixth smallest country in the world. We then were headed to Neuschwanstein Castle, a 19th-century historic palace on a rugged hill of the foothills of the Alps in the very south of Germany, near the border with Austria. It has most famously served as an inspiration for Disney castles. 

Emily Clark Kirkpatrick / Submitted 

We started the next day with an expert-led tour of Munich that included the Olympic Stadium, Residenz and Marienplatz. Next, we visited Dachau, a WWII Nazi concentration camp built in 1933 and liberated by the allies in 1945 that now serves as a memorial museum. It was both moving and eye-opening. How could humans have treated other humans this way? I hope that we all learned something from this visit. From here, we made our way to visit the Residenz, a former royal palace of Bavarian monarchs and the largest city palace in Germany, built in 1385. We saw Munich’s charming Glockenspiel and cobblestone streets, as well as a visit to Hofbrauhaus for a traditional German experience. We ended the day with our farewell dinner at a German pub where we enjoyed sausages and watched the local team play futbol! 

We started our long trek back to Giles County with our heads and hearts full. So many wonderful memories were made during these nine days, and we could not have asked for a better travel group or tour director! 

If this sounds like an EPIC trip to you, you’re in luck. We’re doing it again next year! Spring Break 2025 we are headed to Scotland and England. How do two nations that share a border, an island and a government maintain their own cultural identities? Though bonded politically by the United Kingdom and geographically by the island of Great Britain, England and Scotland each maintain their own distinct character. In Edinburgh, experience kilts, bagpipes, and haggis as you absorb proud Scottish history. At Windsor Castle and Oxford University, the English accent reveals its royal tradition.

If you’d like more information, email me at or Kristal Rose at Get your passport ready, and let’s travel the world together! 

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