Category Archive for France

Goth guide to Paris! Visiting the Catacombs skulls, Pere Lachaise Gothic vampire cemetery, Cantada II absinthe bar.

the purge kiss me mask, kimmy candy girl halloween costume

Kiss Me… if you want to get Purged!

Can you tell I’m already in a Halloween mood? I’m relieved that scary season is back — I always feel most “me” at this dark time of year.

To celebrate, I’m sharing my Gothic travel guide to Paris, France — including a visit to the Catacombs and famous Pere Lachaise cemetery.

And I also have a fun announcement… Blumhouse Productions is flying me to New Orleans, to be part of the Purge TV show and report from the set!

the purge election year kimmy, candy girl, masked purger

I’m sure you’ve heard of Blumhouse, as they’ve released some of the most terrifying horror movies in recent years. I’m a huge fan of The Purge, Paranormal Activity, Get Out, Insidious, Split, Happy Death Day, and the new Halloween (with music by John Carpenter, godfather of synthwave!)

Right now, Blumhouse and USA Network are filming season 2 of  The Purge TV show (one night a year, society becomes lawless — so you can pillage, kill and Purge to your heart’s delight). They’re flying me to New Orleans, where the series is being shot, to go behind the scenes. I’m also going to be in an episode, as an extra: you’ll see me in a big finale scene.

purge movie mask, kiss me, election year purge masks

(I got so excited about this opportunity that I decided to cosplay as Kimmy, the evil candy girl from “The Purge: Election Year!” She wears this bloody “Kiss Me” mask as she wreaks havoc. I took a plain white masquerade mask, and covered it in white caulking, paint… and real blood?)

Ready for the Commencement? You’re invited to follow along my Instagram @lacarmina to see my horrific adventures in New Orleans, with The Purge TV show! 

elegant designer witch costume, witches hat

I’ll also be visiting Boston and Salem, MA — center of the 17th century witch trials. Can’t wait to get my Witch on, in one of the most Gothic places in the world. Keep your eyes peeled for stories from Salem, a place I’ve wanted to see for years. (Photo from last year’s Netflix Spellman House for the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TV show.)

And I have two more trips coming up in October… I’ll reveal more soon. This is going to be the best Halloween ever, muahaha.

human skulls paris catacombs

Until then, I’m thrilled to release my Gothic travel guide to Paris, France! 

Let me take you to the darkest, spookiest places in the city, including The Catacombs of Paris. (I know many of you have been asking me to cover this ossuary, for years.) We’ll encounter thousands of human skulls and bones…

bat tomb grave pere lachaise cemetery

… and hunt for bats and vampires in Père Lachaise Cemetery. (Above is a devilish winged symbol I found on a tomb.)

Finally, we’ll unwind with a glass or several of absinthe, at Cantada II — the heavy metal absinthe bar that Anthony Bourdain visited. 

jacques sirgent vampire tour pere lachaise cemetery

Let’s begin our Gothic tour of Paris with a stroll through Père Lachaise Cemetery.

The Paris Tourism Board connected me with Jacques Sirgent, vampirologist and author. He also curates le Musée des Vampires, a collection of obscure vampire objects, and runs walking tours that show the darkest aspects of the famous graveyard.

gothic spooky haunted paris france

Père Lachaise Cemetery opened in 1804, and stretches over 110 acres. The burial ground is named after Louis XIV’s confessor, and is the final resting place of many famous artists — including Melies, Proust, Moliere, Ingres, and Jim Morrison.

jesus statue arms removed desecrated

Jacques Sirgent knows every corner of cemetery, and has uncovered its most haunting secrets. He showed us desecrated graves — like this one, with Jesus’ arms removed — and places where he found the remains of twisted, occult rituals.

bats vampires pere lachaise paris

Pere Lachaise is a Goth wonderland. We wandered past decaying flowers under stone crosses, and mausoleums guarded by bats.

(My silk cropped jacket is by Charli Cohen).

bat tombstone paris pere la chaise

Jacques pointed out dark details, such as this figure with what appear to be horns and batwings. The 19th century French mausoleums are beautiful to behold.

paris oscar wilde grave art deco

Don’t miss the grave of Oscar Wilde, featuring a 1914 sculpture by Jacob Epstein. This winged deity in motion is inspired by Wilde’s poem The Sphinx. (Officials had to put up a glass barrier, as too many people were kissing the stone).

leduc vampire grave tomb, Musée des Vampires paris

Jacques told us tales of his strange discoveries and theories at Pere Lachaise. He suggests that this coffin-shaped grave for Leduc is linked to Vlad Tepes, the real Count Dracula. Fittingly, it’s marked with bats, always in the dark, and has no cross.

(I’m wearing a Jolie dress by Parisian designer Valfre.)

haunted goth pere lachaise vampirologist

If you’re visiting Paris, be sure to wear your finest mourning garments, and hunt for bats and vampires at Père Lachaise.

visit catacombs paris tunnels

For a more morbid attraction, you’ve got to make a pilgrimage to the Catacombs of Paris!

The catacombs can only hold 200 visitors at a time; book a ticket online in advance, or arrive at off-hours to avoid waiting in a long line. A head’s up: you have to walk down 131 steps, and up 112 at the end, so the site may not be accessible for everyone.

paris ossuary haunted scary goth catacomb

It doesn’t get any spookier than this subterranean collection of the dead. The Paris Catacombs hold the skeletal remains of more than six million people!

french drawing history catacombs origins

In the late 1700s, Paris’ cemeteries were over-crowded, and rotting corpses were spilling out. As a solution, officials unearthed, blessed, and stacked mounds of bones in the city’s former limestone mines.

The Goths of the 19th century enjoyed hanging out in this bone repository, as you can see in the drawing above.

human remains skull bones paris underground

As you creep through the Catacombs, you’ll be surrounded by tall stacks of skulls and bones. I felt quite at home among the dead, but the “dry random bits” at the top made me shiver.

catacombs paris deaths stealing skulls

“Dem bones” are rather artfully arranged. Just when you think you’ve reached the end of the tunnel, you’ll step into yet another passage filled with femurs and crania.

creepy paris skull collection catacombs tickets

I learned that only a small area of the Catacombs are open to the public. Some urban explorers known as “Cataphiles” illegally sneak into secret entrances, and hang out in the dangerous restricted zones.

heavy metal rock bars paris france

The ghoulish theme continued that evening at Cantada II, a heavy metal absinthe bar in the 11th arrondissement.

I learned of Cantada II from Anthony Bourdain’s Paris episode (RIP). With blood red walls, and creepy zombie / monster art everywhere, this was my kind of place.

anthony bourdain paris absinthe bar cantadaii

Cantada II has dozens of absinthe bottles from around the world, which you can order on the rocks, in a cocktail, or served with a flaming sugar cube and water drip from a vintage vessel.

cantada ii absinthe bar paris liqueur goth

Don’t expect a ritzy fin-de-siecle environment: Cantada II blasts heavy metal music, and draws in a gritty alternative crowd.

Since I was in Paris, I stuck to French absinthes including La Coquette, and L’Entete. Everything is well priced, and there are beers and spirits as well.

paris gothic cabaret, absinthe bars cantada ii

Creep past the viking skeleton, and enter a crypt that doubles as a performance space. You might encounter burlesque, pole or tribal dancers at “Cabaret du Neant,” or hipster singing hard rock karaoke.

So happy I got to experience Cantada II absinth bar, and all these spooky sites, while traveling in Paris.

sakura cherry blossoms goth punk outfit

Since I’m in a Halloween mood, we’ll end with a few “batty” outfit posts that I hadn’t shared on the blog. Sourpuss Clothing sent me this Gothic bat baseball tee, faux fur leopard print jacket, and black mini-skirt.

sourpuss bat baseball tee tshirt

I paired it with a bone-shaped hair clip, Jeffrey Campbell platforms, and a Miffy purse from Hong Kong. (The Miffy lamp is from Mr Maria.)

goth punk pinup girl clothing

This Sourpuss faux fur cheetah print jacket is a vibe, no? Love animal prints, and the motto on their long-sleeve top: Support your local working stiff, Monster Mortuary!

leopard print faux fur gothic jacket

Release the bats… and bunnies! Here’s the head-to-toe look, which is perfect for fall weather (so happy it’s no longer so hot outside). Hail Miffy, my favorite cute mascot, as you well know.

goth black bucket hat, lack of color

This summer, I didn’t go anywhere without this Lack of Color bucket hat.  The cotton-canvas material is light and foldable, and the black color matches everything. It’s perfect for taking along on a day out, and can be worn with the brim pushed up or down.

synthwave tshirts turboluv retrowave outrun clothes

What I wore to see Perturbator in concert. Top by Turboluv, a synthwave / outrun / retrowave clothing label. The pharoah leggings are by Cryptic Apparel.

laurence and chico cafe furry colorful chairs

I paid a return visit to the Laurence and Chico cafe in downtown Vancouver. This time, I got to sit in a different fuzzy critter chair in the whimsical high fashion cafe.

hail mary's bar vancouver mary kitsch

I also checked out Hail Mary’s Vancouver, a kitschy theme bar with sacrilegious cocktails and Virgin Mary decor all over.

arc du triomphe at night

Adieu to Paris for now… here’s a final look at the Arc du Triomphe, lit up at night.

I hope you enjoyed my spooky, alternative guide to the city. For other tips (including museums, where to stay, and what to eat), you can consult my first Paris travel article here. A bientot, Paris.

the purge season 2 poster god mask usa network

“This is not a test.” I’m truly off to get Purged!

Check out my Instagram @lacarmina posts and stories starting today, to see what I get up to, on the set of The Purge TV show in New Orleans. It’s going to get bloody… and you’re going to love every second of it.


Renting an apartment with Eiffel Tower view! Paris Perfect rentals review, Paris Pass museum passes, Le Corbusier house.

fountain Place de la Concorde, Fontaine des Mers

Paris, it’s been a while! I’ve visited the “city of lights” twice before, but this was before starting this blog. At long last, I got the chance to come back and share some alternative travel stories with you.

Of course, we’ll creep into the Catacombs, and look for vampires in Pere Lachaise cemetery. However, we’ll start with a photo diary of Paris’ beautiful museums and architecture. (Above is a stirring example, The Fontaines de la Concorde.)

paris art nouveau door 29 ave rapp

If you’re an art / architecture / culture lover like I am, then you should consider Paris as a travel destination. I could spend hours walking through the various arrondissements, admiring the diverse styles from throughout the centuries.

From the ornate Art Nouveau doorway at 29 Avenue Rapp, to the shiny new Russian Orthodox cathedral, there’s so much to take in. 

chambertin apartment paris perfect flat rental

In this spirit, I looked for elegant accommodations straight out of a French fantasy. The moment I scrolled though Paris Perfect‘s apartment rentals, I knew I’d found my Parisian home. 

The photo above captures the magic of my Chambertin apartment. The spacious flat is outfitted with carved fireplaces and chandeliers, and French balconies that open out to a view of the Tour Eiffel! 

romantic luxury apartment short term rental paris france

It’s a joy to browse the short-term vacation rentals at you can search by size and location, and see gorgeous photos of the interiors. Booking online is easy, and the company has an office near the Eiffel Tower where you can store bags if needed. A team member always greets you when you check in, and answers any questions you might have.  

(I’m wearing a Valfre ballerina wrap top and blue En Creme skirt, both from Forest Ink.)

eiffel tower view apartment parisperfect

I settled into Chambertin with a glass of wine (Paris Perfect kindly left me a bottle and snacks). I ran a bath, and soaked in this claw-footed tub while looking out at the Eiffel Tower… “comme la vie est belle.”

(At night, you get a brilliant view of the Eiffel Tower, which twinkles with lights.)

chambertin apartment paris perfect vacation rentals

The apartment rental has a fully equipped kitchen, so you have the option to cook meals at home. I caught up with an old friend in the cozy living room, and worked on my laptop at the dining table (every Paris Perfect apt has free and fast WiFi).

paris france apartment rental agency

Ah, I miss having a morning coffee in this spot! My friend and I would go around the corner to get croissants or French onion soup, and stroll through the nearby parks. 

If you’re looking for a special stay in Paris, seek out a local experience rather than a standard hotel. As you can see, my Paris Perfect accommodations were… perfect, and I’d book with them again in a heartbeat. 

travel fashion blogger eiffel tower pose

My apartment rental was near many metro stops, which was convenient for exploring the city. And it was only a few blocks away from the Eiffel Tower!

I dressed in French fashion for the occasion. My black and white Jolie dress is by Valfre, from Forest Ink (they carry many alternative, grunge and edgy designs by various brands). My leggings and silk bomber jacket are Charli Cohen.

le corbusier la roche house paris

With the kind assistance of Paris Tourist Office, I got a private architecture tour of Le Corbusier’s modern buildings. Anyone can visit Fondation Le Corbusier, an archive that honors the pioneering French-Swiss architect. 

We began at Maison La Roche, which is a semi-detached house designed by “Corbu” and Pierre Jeanneret between 1923–1925. Originally the home of a banker / art collector, the villa is now a museum that holds thousands of the architect’s drawings and photographs. 

villa la roche interior le corbusier france

I loved seeing the smallest details, such as the light switches and furnaces, designed for Maison La Roche. Le Corbusier’s custom furniture complements the horizontal windows, which fill the rooms with light. A steep, curved ramp swoops up from the avantgarde art gallery to the library.  

self portrait valfre jolie black dress

Self portrait in the pink bathroom, wearing Valfre.

Wandering through the grid-like spaces of Villa La Roche truly lets you get a sense of Le Corbusier’s genius. There’s so much more to be said about this UNESCO site; if you’re intrigued, you can check out the Fondation’s detailed guide to the home here.

le corbusier architect portrait working

Our docent also took us to the nearby Paris studio-apartment, where Le Corbusier lived and worked from 1934 to 1965. Although Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (his birth name) is best known as an architect, he was also a prolific writer, artist, and urban planner.  

Fondation Le Corbusier Studio-Apartment

Located on the top floor of Paris’ Molitor Building, the open spaces, supporting columns, and floating facades are quintessential Corbusier. The artist modified the wall colors over time, and added shade panels since the windows let in a bit too much light. 

le corbusier apartment paris france

The pivoting wood door allows you to define the space. Walk up the curving staircase to the terrace, or enter the living room painted with unexpected blocks of primary colors.

le corbusier tour, bathroom design

Some of the studio-apartment’s elements are on the odd side, like a giant elevated bed designed to maximize the view when one is lying down. The bathroom features space-age curves, and the cramped shower looks like a cocoon. 

le corbusier apartment penthouse furniture windows

Le Corbusier filled the apartment with art objects from his travels. He designed much of the furniture himself, such as these curving chairs and marble dining room table. According to his wife, he was inspired by a mortuary slab that he saw in a dissection room!

Visit Le Corbusier's Paris apartment and studio

We walked up to the rooftop garden as the sun was setting. Concrete planes, surrounded by plants… Corbu was very much ahead of his time.

Here’s a detailed PDF from Fondation Corbusier for more details about the studio. Hail Le Corbusier! 

paris museum pass parispass

Since I was keen to visit many museums while in the city, I got a Paris Pass. This sightseeing pass is well worth the value, as you get immediate access to over 60 travel attractions. The Paris Pass also includes a TravelCard for unlimited public transit on the metro, RER trains, and buses.

louvre museum the paris pass

Since I had the Paris Pass, I could use the “fast track” line at top museums and monuments — like the Louvre. The world-famous glass pyramid always has a long line-up, but with The Paris Pass, you can go straight in. 

I only had a short time in Paris (as I was here on my way to Cairo).  The Paris Pass let me maximize my time and enjoy the sights, while saving on entry fees. 

exterior musee d'orsay travel blog

You can choose to get The Paris Pass in 2, 3, 4 or 6 consecutive day lengths. The booklet is mailed to you; simply activate the card by scanning it at the metro or at your first attraction.

When I saw the long line outside Musee D’Orsay, I was relieved I could simply waltz in — and no need to shell out the €14 ticket fee! (If you’re seeing a few attractions a day or taking public transport a lot, the Paris Pass more than pays for itself). 

musee d'orsay dramatic statues

It was my first time at this art museum, which is set inside the glorious Gare d’Orsay. The railway station was built between 1898 and 1900 in the Beaux-Arts style. Today, these original glass and ceiling details have been painstakingly preserved. 

Le Musee D’Orsay focuses on French paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photos from around 1850-1914. It contains the world’s largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works, by artists like Manet, Monet, and their brethren. 

ceiling carvings musee d'orsay

I was especially intrigued by the station architecture (featuring long ramps and industrial staircases). I enjoyed seeing lesser-known large scale works, such as French Symbolist paintings with trippy themes.

french devil weird statues orsay museum

You’ll find Mondrian, Degas, Delacroix, Rodin, and Gauguin among the Orsay artists. I got a kick out of the dramatic carved statues found throughout the open spaces — like this devilish detail. 

french art tortured poses vampires

Yes, you can see placid waterlilies here. Or you can find tormented poses, and a vampiric bite while Satan flies through the red sky! 

the paris pass review worth it cost

The Paris Pass made it possible to cut the queues and save on ticket fees. On their website, you can see the full list of museums and activities that the sightseeing pass covers. The Paris Pass also includes a free hop on/off Big Bus day tour, and discounts at restaurants and shops.

quai branly museum red exterior architecture

You can make the rounds of Arc de Triomphe, Panthéon, Musée Rodin and dozens more with the Paris Pass. I enjoyed the opportunity to visit lesser-known museums, like the Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac. Since entry is included with the pass, why not check it out? 

musée du quai Branly, Jacques Chirac

Next time, I’ll use The Paris Pass to go up the Eiffel Tower, and do a wine and cheese tasting… 

Fontaine des Fleuves paris concorde fountain

The entire city feels like a museum. Even though Paris is such a popular destination, I was swept away by its charm.  

deux abeilles paris restaurant

Look up and admire the details found in each neighborhood. 

eglise Saint Pierre de Chaillot church

It’s fun to people-watch. Check out the black and white outfit worn by the lady outside Saint Pierre de Chaillot church.

jardin des tuileries paris parks

In Paris, sometimes the “tourist” things are the best things to do. Take a stroll along the banks of the River Seine, and duck into the Jardin des Tuileries.

angelina cakes pastries sweets paris cafe

And eat. Indulge in Laduree macarons, get fresh croissants from a local bakery, and try a sampling of cakes at Angelina. 

angelina Galeries Lafayette restaurant food wine

Linger over a meal at Angelina’s cafe in Galleries Lafayette. Cheese and beet salad, cheesy pasta, and multiple glasses of red wine.

french fashion blogger outfit, paris valfre top skirt

Paris, je t’aime. Merci Paris Perfect for the lovely stay in Chambertin apartment; I can’t wait to return. 

But how about the Gothic side of the city? That’s coming up next. Catacombs, French absinthe and graveyard haunted by vampires… A bientot!