15 days, 6 cities, 5 train rides and 2 road trips later...
Let's just start with how France in September is always a dream.
There's just something about this country that I can't seem to get enough, ever since the first time I roam the streets of Paris, a couple of years ago. And I thought I would get over the mesmerization but the third time around was no different. It just made me fall in love with the country even more.
Marseille was the first city we visited, it is the one of the oldest ports in the Mediterranean and the third largest city in France after Paris and Lyon. I found Marseille to be a quaint city with its seaport beauty. But not as scenic as Nice though but I did quite enjoy the morning walks by the port as the fishermen were selling their catch of the day. Marseille was known for it's seafood but ironically enough I ended up eating a lot of meats in this leg of the trip. My favourite part of Marseille was walking through the neighbourhood of Le Panier - alleys filled of beautiful graffiti and local merchants. We also had the yummiest seafood salad in that area. I honestly love getting lost in the alleyways. Mama Ang did not. Opps!
Getting to the car rental was a trip and a half as it didn't indicate on google map that all of the car rentals were located in the same office so for a moment I thought I was scammed. But eventually we got to our rental car and off we went. What was suppose to be a 1.5hrs drive from Marseille took nearly 3hrs with so many road closures and failed GPS detours. We arrived at the Sanctuaire Notre-Dame de Grâces - located just outside of a little town called Cotignac. It's quite interesting how this site of apparitions isn't as well-known even though both St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared. Cotignac was the cutest little town - I just couldn't get over it. Mama Ang was all about the Sanctuary and literally deterred when I suggested to roam around Cotignac -_-
The moment I got into Lyon, I regretted not staying longer especially with the spectacular view from the hotel. Lyon is highly regarded as THE place to be when it comes to food - many Michelin chefs hail from Lyon, which is why I wish I stayed longer. Biggest foodie right here!! And honestly, Lyon is just a beautiful city - I felt like it had that Parisian je ne sais quoi without the big city vibe. Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is located on top of the hill and honestly the most beautiful Notre Dame I've had a chance to visit. The intricate details just left me at awe and I cannot really comprehend in words of how beautiful it is. It also has a spectacular view of Lyon.
The trip was planned so well that there had to be minor hiccups along the way and it was always when I had to get my car at the rental. First, I was 1hr late and they didn't hold my car - I nearly panicked as I don't know how to drive manual. Note to self... I need to learn how to drive stick. But luckily they located another automatic. Let's rewind to the night before when I decided to just double check the rental car location and noticed I rented an automatic instead. Yep. Fast-forward to the following morning... luckily the drive to Paray-le-Monial was easy. Most likely because the sanctuary was a town that people visited. As you can see by now... there's been a pattern. Mama Ang randomly spurted out a bunch of "apparition sites" and I pretty much had to get us there. Hence, the train rides and the driving!
I love Toulouse! It's the cutest little town and I honestly couldn't get enough of it. Toulouse was the little extra touch of the trip - I honestly wasn't expecting much but I think it was by far the most energetic as far as the vibe goes. We stayed right at the heart of the city and it so happened to be when there was street fair and all of the roads were closed so getting to the hotel from the train station was a mission. I nearly did 10k steps after I randomly walk to the river and back and also I stumbled upon the most serene encounter when I passed by a church while the choir was practicing. I could go on and on... Toulouse was the cutest town! And I absolutely would go back!
It was my 2nd time in Lourdes. But it was the first for Mama Ang. I absolutely loved Lourdes as it's literally located in the Pyrenees mountains. It's the most serene place and I feel like the mountains just makes it more spiritual. My most favourite spot is still PIc de Jer - up 10,000 ft going up on a vernacular - you oversee the whole little town of Lourdes. Honestly... breathtaking. We go there right when the sun came out and the moment we came down it started to pour. Majestic. Mama Ang absolutely loved Lourdes - we spent 4 days here and went to EVERY single shop as Mama Ang was looking for the most specific religious artifacts. I think the most interesting experience was probably taking the bath.
Oh! What can I say... I absolutely love this city! When I first came here a couple of years ago... I actually didn't think much of it but then I fell in love. This city has everything I love: fashion, food, dessert, art and history. I couldn't ask for anything else in a city. Paris was the city I look forward in visiting again because it honestly is my kindred city. Every time, I'm here I just feel right at home. And everything was familiar. I ended up staying on Rue St. Honoré - literally down the street from the French President and right across from the American Embassy. Let's just say - I felt quite safe with the 24/7 security.
And so... that quickly summarizes my trip. Can't wait for next year :P
'til next time...