French Retreat (Manila Bulletin)

Sunset at Vieux Port (“Old Harbor”), one of La Rochelle’s main tourist destinations, falls at about 9 PM in the European summer. (Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita)
Sunset at Vieux Port (“Old Harbor”), one of La Rochelle’s main tourist destinations, falls at about 9 PM in the European summer. (Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita)

It was seven o’clock in the evening, and the sun was still shining as brightly as if it were three o’ clock back home. I was in a second-class coach on a train from Paris, but, luckily, I had the aisle all to myself and could stretch and take photos and contort as I pleased. In front of me, beyond the glass that reflected the blurred faces of a cute French guy reading a book and an old man with a white beard, were wide open spaces as far as my eyes could see. We had passed what seemed like endless fields of golden wheat, followed by sunflower fields, grass… and more grass under an infinite expanse of blue. It was so blue, in fact, that my eyes hurt just looking at it. There were long stretches where not a cloud could be seen in the sky.

Yet it was seven in the evening, and my day was just about to begin.

I left Paris at around five in the afternoon on a TGV train bound for La Rochelle, to visit one of my dearest girlfriends, Michelle Tandoc-Pichereau, and her husband, who prefers to be called just B. Before Paris, I had come from a grueling one-week journalism scholarship program in Prague, and then made an equally tiring 24-hour pit stop in the City of Lights to pay a courtesy call to the royalty of French landmarks. But my real destination, the real jewel of this European adventure, was La Rochelle, where I felt that I could finally hop, skip, jump, stretch, sleep, and just…breathe.

This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, visit the Manila Bulletin website HERE.

Paris in a Hurry (asianTraveler)

Words by Niña Terol-Zialcita

Images by Niña Terol-Zialcita

Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita
Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita

I have to admit: it was a rather foolish decision to make Paris only a short pit stop between my trip to Prague, Czech Republic, where I had spent a week on a scholarship program, and the French seaside town of La Rochelle, where I was set to make a long-awaited visit to friends. Divided into 20 arrondisements (administrative districts), Paris is certainly a city that takes days—even weeks—to fully explore and enjoy. Even with enough time and cash on your hands, you will never run out of new experiences to savor in the City of Lights.

Still, my itinerary specified that I had less than a full day to enjoy Paris, so with my (broken) luggage in tow and with my spirit resolute to make the most of my Parisian experience, I set off to explore the city like a soldier on a mission.

Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita
Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita

The must-sees: The Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, the Paris Opera House, and the Musée Louvre

I planned my trip around courtesy calls to the royalty of Parisian monuments. From my hotel in rue Cambronne (on the light-green Nation-Charles de Gaulle Étoile metro line) I took a long, leisurely walk to the École Militaire, the military school whose walls still bear deep, visible scars from the Second World War. The école sits right across Champ de Mars, a large, expansive park from where you can get an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower. Although named after the Roman god of war, the park is tourist- and family- friendly and also boasts a large Wall of Peace.

After ogling at the Eiffel Tower and snapping away with my camera for about an hour or so, I found my way to the Invalides metro station to take the train to Avenue des Champs-Élysées (where I was lucky enough to catch the tail- end of the Tour de France). The strip is also the city’s shopping district, home to many of the world’s most famous brands such as Louis Vuitton, Maison Guerlain, Zara, Adidas, Benetton, Sephora, and even the Disney Store, among many others. during the summer months, almost all on sale-up to 70% off, during the summer months. Right at its end sits the tall and proud Arc de Triomphe, which Napoleon had commissioned in 1806 to celebrate the victories of his army. Completed in 1836, it had once been called by the French literary great Victor Hugo as “a heap of glory.”

Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita | Special thanks to Pierre et Mimi Duhamel
Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita | Special thanks to Pierre et Mimi Duhamel
Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita
Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita
Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita
Photo by Nina Terol-Zialcita

This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, visit the asianTraveler website HERE.