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Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 


Tutors: Séverin Guillard, Bertrand Pleven, Marie-Laure Poulot and Frédéric Bouvier/ geographers

Project manager: Stéphane Coulaud


With around 85 million foreign visitors each year, France is one of the world’s major tourist destinations. Behind the eloquence of this figure, there is a complex reality to investigate: what does today’s tourism involve and what are its many versions? To study this question, the students combined their own experiences of the subject with geographical tools and concepts. .

The contributor opened the workshop by clarifying the links that connect geography (as a scientific method) and tourism (as a field to be explored). The specificity of the workshop’s theme meant that it was necessary to alternate sessions in the classroom and fieldtrips. Firstly, the students defined a study field in Paris, as both a theme for study and a tourist experiment to experience, observe and analyse. During the next phase of the workshop, this was compared with a “séquano-dionysien” site (i.e. a site in Saint Seine Denis).  

Before the trip, the students and geographer established a protocol which enabled the students to spot, on different kinds of maps (Ordnance Survey, Google, tourist maps, etc.): circuits taken during the outing, any information points for tourists (tourism office kiosks), public transport so that tourists can get to the sites (metro, bus, etc.), urban facilities (car parks), shops, etc. The same protocol classified the profile of tourists to be interviewed (young couples, mature couples, couples with children, school trips, groups of adults, etc.), and set out a list of questions to ask. The next step during the field trip involved observing tourists and their practices, especially when they took selfies or photos in front of monuments etc. All this information was then processed and analysed in the classroom, and was used as a basis for the more local field study. 

The second field study focused on the Seine-Saint-Denis department, which attracts tourists partly because of various emblematic monuments (e.g. the Saint-Denis Cathedral and Basilica) and now also because of the huge success of American blockbuster productions such as The Hunger Games, scenes of which were shot on location in the Espaces d’Abraxas in Noisy-le-Grand. A protocol similar to the one used for the Parisian study was drawn up: preparing and writing up questions; rehearsing the questions to facilitate encounters with interviewees; visitors’ origins, etc. Like the data gathered from the various sites in Paris, the elements and information collected during the Seine-Saint-Denis fieldtrip were processed and analysed later in the classroom. 

On the morning of Thursday 8th June 2017, the students made their presentations in front of a jury at the Sorbonne’s Institute of Geography. Using PowerPoint displays, the classes presented the findings of their work and the discussions carried out during the workshops. The members of the jury – geographers, academics, professors and representatives from the National Education system – listened to the students and debated with them after the morning’s presentations.

Édith Fagnoni, geographer, Paris-Sorbonne University; Catherine Carré, Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University; Stéphane Desruelles, Paris-Sorbonne University; Michel Héron, IA/IPR; Jacqueline Jalta, IA/IPR; Florence Smits, geographer, National Education inspector; Sairi Pineiros, PhD student, ATER, Paris-Sorbonne University.


Outings (selection):
- Chaillot Hill/Paris
- Forecourt of the Eiffel Tower/Paris
- Montmartre District/Paris
- The Louvre and theTuileries Gardens/Paris
- Espaces d’Abraxas in Noisy-le-Grand/Seine-Saint-Denis

Participating schools:
- class 4e SEGPa, collège DESCARTES, LE BLANC-MESNIL



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