Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My Favorite Site 2016: Paris Zoological Parc

Though my favorite "sites" were actually the sight of friends and family while I was in Paris, the Parc Zoologique de Paris was my favorite attraction this trip.
Lioness with cubs at Paris Zoo
Lioness with cubs
During all my visits and even while living in Paris, I had never visited the previous version of the zoo, the Zoo de Vincennes. When we visited in 2012, it was on my list but still closed. Due to reopen in 2014, I anticipated visiting it during my last trip with a friend. But, it was still closed, due to opened a week after we left!
Majestic Giraffes at Paris Zoo
Majestic Giraffes
The original Zoo, located in the large park just outside the city in the Bois de Vincennes, was created from a "Colonial Exposition" of animals in 1931. The exposition was so popular, the city of Paris and the city's natural history museum created a real zoo. It was designed by Charles Letrosne who drew inspiration from the Hamburg zoo, built in 1901. The concept was new: no cages and a more natural looking habitat for the animals. It opened in 1934.
Very Large Bird Stretching His Wings at Paris Zoo
Very Large Bird Stretching His Wings
However, by the 1980s, the zoo became worn and between 2004 and 2006, the zoo was closed. During that time, all of the animals were transferred to other places in France and other countries. In 2006, a completely new zoo was begun! It is now the only zoo in the world to have been completely rebuilt. It was completed with a public/private partnership and 157,000,000 Euros.

Ring-Tailed Lemurs, Including mama & baby at Paris Zoo
Ring-Tailed Lemurs, Including mama & baby - watching a helicopter!
The concept is to have the animals in habitats natural to their own homes. The zoo is designed around five natural zones in the 95,000 square meter (approx. 23 acres) park. See their website for more about the zones.

What I loved most was how easy it was to see the animals. There were often many vantage points around their vast outside areas. The animals were not afraid of people and in some cases, even wanted to interact with you - such teases! There were vast outdoor spaces and inside spaces as well. I loved the huge rain forest "green house and the huge aviary.
Guinea baboons at Paris Zoo
Guinea Baboons
A Napping Puma Paris Zoo
A Napping Puma (I think)
Our visit was the first warm day in a while, so many animals were outside soaking up the sun. Being the beginning of March and the middle of the week, we had little competition to our viewing pleasure!
Black Jaguar at Paris Zoo
Black Jaguar

The price is steep, but frankly, well worth it at 22 Euros for adults and 14 for children. I would rather pay good money to see a well maintained  place. This zoo's mission is its animals health and it is heavily involved with biodiversity, conservation and research. There are approximately 1000 animals of 180 different species, including many animals facing extinction in the wild.
Jaguar at Paris Zoo
I don't see much about this attraction in Paris travel guides. But for me, it's top of my list from this 2016 trip. It's exciting to see a zoo done right and see the conservation and teaching they are doing with it. While there might have been guides you could get that were in English, do bring your dictionary because most of the information around the zoo was in French. I love that they announce feeding times so you can watch (not for the squeamish.) Come early and try to avoid the weekend or school vacations. Click here for more info about this great place.
The Amazon-Guyana Biozone at Paris Zoo
The Amazon-Guyana Biozone From Outside
Inside The Amazon-Guyana Biozone at Paris Zoo
The Amazon-Guyana Biozone From Inside

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Friday, March 25, 2016

I went to Paris and didn't visit the Eiffel Tower!

Hausmann Style in Paris
Now that my brain is mostly back on State-side mode and thinking in EST, the two weeks in Paris sort of feel like a dream. Don't you hate that feeling when you get back from something so awesome and you wake up to your "normal" life and the "other" life seems like it didn't happen at all?

Paris home overlooking Père Lachaise Cemetery
Paris home overlooking Père Lachaise Cemetery
Thank goodness for the camera! I had fun with mine and my husband was patient beyond words while I took over 1000 photos! And to that I say, thank goodness for digital. Because no matter how incredible that photo seemed when you took it, there's a pretty real chance that you look at it later and wonder, "Why?!"

Gentleman at the Epicerie, Covered Marche Saint Quentin
This was my 12th time to Paris (if you count my 3 trips as a kid when someone else called the shots.) I have been asked time and time again, "Why do you keep going back?" Well, anyone who loves Paris can answer that. There is always too much to see in any one trip. Vacation goes too fast, things fall off your to-do list, you discover alternative things to do, your jet lag lags you longer than you thought it would, it takes longer to do an activity than you thought it would, etc. So, you just have to go back!

My problem is more about my bucket list getting longer with each trip instead of shorter!

La Rotunde at the Place de la Bataille-de- Stalingrad, Paris
La Rotunde at the Place de la Bataille-de- Stalingrad

Admittedly, I have a chronic condition where I am just no longer able to go, go, go. Even when I was younger and could, I didn't like too. You miss too much that way. When I read guide books who say  to plan three hours for the Musee d'Orsay, I wonder what you would see during that time. And even more importantly, what you would remember about it two days later!

Building seen from La promenade plantée, Paris
Building seen from La promenade plantée
My trip was full of memorable activities, people, and food. Yet, I never saw the Eiffel Tower nor the Arc de Triomphe (except from afar!) We never even walked by Notre Dame! My goal this trip was to do almost all new things and I did achieve that!

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