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RSF Senior Center enjoys an afternoon in Paris

RANCHO SANTA FE — People enjoyed an afternoon at the RSF Senior Center to learn a variety of Paris traveling tips as well as sharing their own travel experiences across the pond. Leading the July 17 afternoon event was Mark Anderson, the owner of Adventure Vacations, based in La Jolla.

Anderson has jetted to Paris since 1972. “The first time, my budget was $5 a day and I slept in the park,” he said.

But a lot has changed since 1972.

Anderson has gone to Paris countless times. He eventually got into the travel industry and has owned his business for more than 25 years.

“We have sent thousands of people to Paris over the years and it’s become our little niche in the market,” Anderson said. “It’s not the only thing we do, but something we have done well for a very long time.”

Their packages such as Christmas Shopping Paris, Springtime in Paris, or Valentine’s Day in Paris have been huge hits and recognized by the Los Angeles Times and U-T San Diego, he said.

Those in attendance took away Paris tips, complimentary maps, guides, and discount shopping cards.

“Paris is one of those places that have an endless variety and fascination into so many rich cultural experiences like art, literature, architecture, food, and wine,” Anderson said.

He also referred to Ernest Hemingway’s written peace, “Moveable Feast,” which is memoirs from his time in Paris in his early years.

“Hemingway wrote this wonderful book which said for anybody who was lucky enough to spend some time in Paris in their youth it will stay with them for the rest of their lives,” he said.

With a large map of Paris Anderson used as a visual, he explained and pointed out how the city was divided into 20 districts.

He dismantled traveling to Paris into three seasons: low, shoulder, and high seasons.

Low season occurs from November to March and travelers pay nearly half the amount in airfare and hotel bills than they would in high season, during mid-June through August.

Shoulder season, Anderson explained, is from April to mid-June.

“For the shoulder season, weather is still nice and prices are down,” he said, adding how the ideal time to travel to Paris is in the spring and fall.

Anderson told everyone for those who want a direct flight to Paris, that itinerary was leaving from Los Angeles International Airport and boarding either Air France or Air Tahiti Nui. Tahiti, Anderson said, is French territory.

While French chefs prepare the food for Air France, Anderson wanted everyone to know that Air Tahiti Nui was a more laid back island style experience.

“As soon as the plane leave, the crew gets into their Tahitian regalia, plays the ukulele, and sings,” he said.

For American standards, Anderson said he recommended a three-star, preferably four-star hotel rating.

“And before I left the office, everyone wanted me to tell you that the French are not rude,” Anderson said. “They are like coconuts — hard on the outside but soft on the inside.”

While Anderson named all the popular sites to see, he took a detour to his favorite bar near the Notre Dame Cathedral called, Les Trois Mailletz. Nearly 700 years ago, workers would go there for their break and some wine. Today, opera singers visit diners while someone plays on a piano, Anderson said.

Another recommendation was The Rodin Museum in the middle of Paris. Anderson wanted everyone to know the museum was housed in Rodin’s 16th century mansion.

While getting around Paris can be done by metro, bus, and taxi, Anderson prefers to walk. The town is about three to four miles wide, compact and very accessible.

Executive director of the RSF Senior Center, Terrie Litwin, was delighted with the afternoon event and considering a travel series to their lineup.

“Everybody was so enthusiastic and energetic today,” she said. “They either had good memories, were thinking about a trip, learned practical tips and more about the sites to see.”