Eighteen Macquarie Anglican Grammar School students were in Paris when the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames.
The students accompanied by two teachers and seven other adults were in Europe on a Modern and Ancient History Tour.
Headmaster Craig Mansour said for most of the group it was their first trip to Europe and Paris was the first stop in the students' adventure.
"The first stop was Paris, and the very first thing the group did once they arrived was to go to the Eiffel Tower," Mr Mansour said.
"Then we took a cruise on the river Seine, passing by the Notre Dame Cathedral, only for it to go up in flames about three hours later.
"Some of the other highlights of Paris were Versailles Palace, Champs Elysees, climbing the Arc de Triomphe, Museum de Invalides, where Napoleon's tomb lies, and the Louvre Museum.
"Trying the local cuisine of snails (escargot) and frog's legs was also an adventure undertaken by a few brave students."
The students visited France, Belgium and Italy.
"Trying the local French cuisine of snails (escargot) and frog's legs was also an adventure undertaken by a few brave students," Mr Mansour said
"The group then travelled to the Somme in northern France, where the WWI battlefields began.
"They visited the recently opened Sir John Monash Centre which honours the Australian soldiers and their efforts in the region during WWI.
"They paid their respects at war cemeteries around Villers-Bretonneux, Le Hamel and Fromelles."
The following day the group moved into Belgium, basing itself at Ypres in the Flanders region.
On Easter Sunday the group flew from Lille to Naples, in southern Italy.
"It was straight to the National Archaeological Museum to view items found in Pompeii," Mr Mansour said.
The group stayed in Sorrento for three nights.
"Highlights here included Pompeii, which they were guided around by Dr Estelle Lazer," he said.
The final day the group made their way to the Vatican City.
"The absolute highlight of Italy was the food, the pizza, pasta and gelato," Mr Mansour said.