Parisian Pit Stop

Before I boogied down in the French Riviera, I made a quick 2-day pit-stop in Paris. My first adventure in Paris wasn’t the stuff of horror stories, but it wasn’t a chick-lit romance either. Fact was I hated my first adventure in Paris.

So why return?

Duh — it’s freaky PARIS!

Once again, I lodged at the Royal Regency by Diamond Resorts in Vincennes, France. The resort is located about twenty minutes from Central Paris, which was great because it was just far enough away to allow me to wind down and enjoy a part of Paris not overcrowded with tourists.

My stay here at Royal Regency was nice. The two-bedroom apartment was lovely and comfortable. There is a supermarket right across the road, meaning I could grab some snacky-snacks and Pepto Bismol when my tummy rebelled against the richness of French cuisine. The staff were really friendly and willing to help me enjoy my visit to the fullest.

 

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CATACOMBES DE PARIS

Later, I checked off another bucket list item – Catacombes de Paris. I’d planned to visited the Catacombs on my first visit, but I did something against my own rules and didn’t buy tickets in advance. Thus, I missed out. No way was I standing in line for over two hours (in the summer Paris heat) just to buy a time-stamped ticket and have to come back later. To me, that’s  wasting precious exploration time.

Travel Tip: If planning to visit high-traffic tourist attractions in any city, always consider purchasing tickets in advance, especially if given a specific time slot. Also, consider splurging just a bit and purchasing a “skip-the-line” ticket. If not, you could waste an entire day waiting in line, which is not fun, especially in the summer heat.

Back to my catacombs visit.

It was dark, gloomy and a little cold. Yet, it was just mind-blowing. It truly was a labyrinth. Visiting the largest ossuary in the world and the home to the remains of six millions Parisians was a revelation. Also, learning more about the Catacombs’ history was intriguing.

For instance, did you know farmers used the Catacombs to grow mushrooms? The practice began in the 19th century, when Parisian Monsieur Chambery ventured down into the tunnels and observed a patch of wild mushrooms growing within a chamber. He began using the abandoned tunnels to grow his champignon de Paris (bka button mushrooms), a practice recognized by the Horticultural Society of Paris.

I also learned Les Catacombes de Paris was once the site of a vintage wine heist. A gang of French thieves drilled through the limestone walls of the Catacombs into a nearby vault, which contained around 300 bottles of vintage wine. The the thieves got the wine, which was valued at €250,000.

Wow! I love history, especially history about my bucket list items.

 

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A PARISIAN WALK

Since I hit the typical tourist attractions (La Tour Eiffel; Musée du Louvre, etc.) during my first trip, this time around, I focused on exploring Paris as a “local” instead of a “tourist.”

Well, that was the plan anyway.

Due to the Yellow Jackets/Yellow Vests protests, I had to carefully avoid certain areas of the city, including the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, which is on my bucket list, and Père Lachaise Cemetery, where Oscar Wilde is buried.

And I was really looking forward to visiting Victor Noir’s tomb – for historical reasons of course. Ha Ha.

Nevertheless, there were plenty of activities to explore. But first, a visit to “Our Lady of Paris” was a must.

On 15 April 2019, like everyone else around the world, I watched with horror and sadness as Notre-Dame de Paris burned. At the same time, it reminded me why I no longer subscribe to the “one of these days” mentality. As sad as I was watching this historic building burn, inside I was happy I saw it on my first visit.

Word of Advice: if you’re waiting for “someday” to arrive so you take a vacation, and visit iconic and historic landmarks and locations you’ve always wanted to see in-person, remember – someday is not a day of the week.”

 

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I decided to visit Shakespeare & Company to satisfy my reading addiction. I know the store has become more tourist attraction than bookstore, yet I was drawn to it.

Okay, truthfully I only visited because the store was right across the street from Notre Dame. I prefer local bookshops with a mixture of hard-to-find books and a few new releases.

 

Still, I was able to find two books that piqued my interest; then found a quiet spot along the Seine to read.

A quiet moment along the Seine

Lunch followed my quiet reading session. Despite an abundance of cafés and restaurants selecting a suitable lunch spot was a problem. I wasn’t craving any particular food (i.e. crêpes, Croque monsieur), so I had a tough time deciding where to eat. Finally, I just went to a nice restaurant across from Notre-Dame de Paris called La Bucherie.

I ordered the duck with roasted potatoes. Why? Just felt like having duck. The meal was yummy and filling. It was also way better than the disgusting disaster of a meal I had the day before at the Café du Rendez-vous. I think I’ll pass the next I’m invite to “Rendezvous” at Café du Rendez-vous.

 

ATELIER DES LUMIÈRES

The next day I attended the “Van Gogh, Starry Night” and “Dreamed Japan, Pictures of the Floating World” exhibitions at the Atelier des Lumières.

The digital exhibitions featured an immersion in the paintings of Vincent van Gogh, followed by a journey into Japan’s world of geishas, samurai warriors and spirits. Very well done presentations and a wonderful educational experience. A must see hidden gem!

 

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ONTO THE NEXT DESTINATION

The next day, I experienced Paris traffic on my way to Orly Airport. Though the traffic reminded me of my Los Angeles home, I kept a smile on my face because I was now heading to my true vacation destination — Côte d’Azur.

Birthday Extravaganza 2019 continues!

 

 

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