Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Opera Garnier….

Thursday, April 19, 2012

We had a late start this morning and it was noon before we were up, finished breakfast and cleaned up the apartment. But at soon we were out the door to a cold but beautiful day with sunshine. We did however have the umbrellas in the backpack along with cheese & salami, half of our daily baguette left from dinner last night and a beer to share for lunch somewhere during the day. We purchase our baguette originale each evening before dinner on the way home.

Our first stop this morning was the Opera Garnier; our first view as we came up out of the Metro! What a stunning vista…now to see if we can tour it. Our one and only visit was a number of years ago…you can only visit when the ballet is not in practice or performing. The operas moved from this venue when they built a new opera house at Place Bastille.

We looked all over the doors at the head of the stairs in front and nothing was open…we have always entered from the front. There were signs pointing for an Entrance on the side and we kept following the signs until we were all the way around at the back. Voila…they’ve moved the entrance for tourists to the back. We saw an open gate and walked in…no real signs saying that this was the entrance; Jim was brave enough to walk through on the red carpet and sure enough…we were able to purchase tickets for an unaccompanied tour for 9 euros each. Steep price but oh so worth it once we found what it purchased. We had free run of the place except for backstage! Even got to sit in a seat and view the stage and magnificent ceiling mural by Marc Chagall that surrounds the eight ton chandelier. The Opera was built in the late 1800’s in the belle époque era and you’ll delight in the grand staircase entry to the boxes in the photos.

There was also an exhibit on J. Massenet, one of the most famous composers of operas and symphonies that made it all a very memorable experience. We checked in the gift shop for some of the special honey from the beehives kept on the roof of the Opera House; but alas, they were out. They told us that if we went to the Gourmet Shop in the Galleries Lafayette; they had honey there made from hives in Paris. The cost of a small jar is fifteen euros so I think I’ll pass but it is an interesting possibility.

We headed for the Galleries Lafayette behind the Opera…not for the honey….but to climb to the roof for some views. Hoped to see the bee hives…not sure if we saw them or not. The roof has changed…they had artificial grass and seating…new since we’ve been there. But the sun is shining and the views were wonderful of the city of Paris from the 7th floor.

Heading west we passed several more of their buildings as we walked towards the other big department store in the area: Printemps. This one also has great views from the rooftop…actually a better view but it doesn’t have the wonderful glass ceiling over the central part of the store that Galleries Lafayette has.

Suddenly we could hear music…there was a classical pianist playing outside of the final building for Galleries Lafayette; it was amazing. I hope to post the video that Jim took on Facebook this week. He was making lots of money!

When he finished we continued on to our second site for today; the Chapelle Expiatoire. This is a lesser known park that houses the mass burial grave for all the royal bodies that were taken from the Cathedrale of Sainte-Denis during the revolution. It is also the original graves for Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. They were there for twenty-one years and then moved to their final graves at Saint-Denis Cathedrale.

We sat in the park there and ate our lunch after viewing the chapel and grounds. It was nearly 3 pm by the time we left and started walking towards Montmartre. We shed our coats and put on sunglasses as we walked up the hill past the Gare St Lazare and then the Place de Clichy.

Soon we were walking over the bridge that divides the Montmartre Cemetery; about that time it began to look like rain! We continued up the back side of Montmartre on Avenue Junot. Found the bust of a lady and then the Hotel Particular. This hotel has no sign and you have to know what you’re looking for. If you want to go to the bar of the hotel for a drink….you have to make a reservation first. On we went…saw the sculpture of a man coming out of the wall…and then suddenly it began to rain! Thank goodness we had our umbrellas.

The rain had stopped by the time we reached the restaurant area at the top of the hill. We walked through the artist area and over to Sacre-Coeur for a visit before heading down the other side. We walked along Larmack to the back and found our Metro at the station called Larmack Caulaincourt. We saw some great and different views of Sacre-Coeur from these streets. I particularly wanted to see this station as in the floods earlier this year we saw a photo of water rushing down both sides of this station on the stairs….it looked like a waterfall!

Home by 6 pm we fixed lasagna, salad, bread and wine and then walked to the park for some computer time before they closed the park at 8 pm…we were the last to leave.

It’s been another terrific day in Paris!

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