Day Eighty Eight

Day for exploring. The weather is a little against us, with a persistent
light rain. But still, walking in the rain in Paris is no hardship, and off
we go.

We set out on foot for a walk along the river. Even in the rain, the
tourists and locals are out in force. It’s the weekend and a little rain
is stopping no one. The queues outside of the museums and various
displays are huge. I’m glad that we are under no pressure to
sightsee. Very nice just to roam without pressure of things and
places one must see.

Having said that though, there is one thing I do want to see – the
Opera National de Paris Garnier. The first time we came to Paris we
ran out of time and missed it. The second time, it was closed for
restoration works and was under cover and scaffold…but this time I
am determined.

We catch the metro to the Opera and as we emerge from
underground, it’s revealed in all its restored glory. It’s so beautiful.
Ornate in the extreme, it’s a mixture of styles ranging from classical
to baroque. Building commenced in 1862 for Napoleon and it took
some 13 years to complete.

The interior is even more grand with a sweeping double marble stair
case and a riot of columns, friezes, statues, chandeliers and gold,
gold, gold. For the leader of the people, Napoleon sure fancied a
gold interior. Apparently under the building is a lake, the inspiration
behind the Phantom’s hiding place in the Phantom of the Opera.

We get to look in on a rehearsal performance and see the stage and
balconied centre. These days this building is home to the ballet, we
most operas performed elsewhere. There are costumes from various
ballets on each floor.

The piece de resistance is a room on the top floor. Very reminiscent
of the halls of mirrors in Versailles. A glorious room that gleamed
with gold finishes, mirrors and a painted ceiling.

It’s a truly magnificent building. I’m really glad we finally were able
to see it.

After our tour we set off on a walk around the Opera quarter, and
end up at the church of La Madeleine and around the corner from
that Place de la Madeline, home to some wonderful shops including
Fauchon, aka the millionaires supermarket. Not quite that. It’s more
a celebration of fine chocolate, wine, charcuterie, patisserie,
condiments and boulangerie. Yum.

After Fauchon, we set off to walk the Champs Elysées, ostensibly to
visit the Sephora there, but also to see the Arc de Triomphe. It’s still
raining and what’s normally a busy street is rather quiet. This
Sephora is huge and I test Chris’ patience once more. He really is a
very good boy.

We get a little lost on the way home in the Metro. We are normally
at home in the underground network, found ourselves in a country
interchange station and couldn’t find our connection. Never mind,
we make the last couple of stops on foot instead.

It’s still raining, heavily now, so we decide to eat locally at a
restaurant in the guide book, but we its not there anymore. We
instead opt for an Indian restaurant and end up having a really good
meal.

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