Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Parisian Museums, Boat Rides and Cuisine, Oh My!

On May 30th we took a guided tour of L'Opera Garnier. Honestly, I didn't know anything about the opera house before the tour. Immediately upon entering the building, I was taken aback. I feel like a bit of a broken record...but the architecture...the design, it was so decadent and beautiful!

One interesting fact about L'Opera's design...if I remember the story correctly, a prior king was killed in a bombing in front of the L'Opera as he was getting out of his carriage. Napoleon III wanted something grand AND he didn't want to have to get out of his carriage to enter the building. So, there is a wide pathway (wide enough for horses and a carriage), the kings entrance, on the side of the building. The king wouldn't have to exit his carriage until he was almost at his box!

This is Garnier's first display upon entering L'Opera. Inside the second circle from the center, there is writing...including the year, 1815. Can you see it? There's more, but unfortunately, I can't remember or make it out from my picture. I do remember that this entry way was lined with mirrors. I suppose so the creme de la creme could make sure they were, indeed, exquisite.

Here's the view as you walk up the first set of stairs. Marble as far as you can see; every piece of artwork and every design was thoroughly thought out. The landing at the top of the staircase (to the right) is supposed to mirror a stage. Those walking up the stairs are somewhat on display as if they are the actors. Those who have already made it to that level and are socializing along the hallways that have balconies throughout, feel as though they are watching the stage from a posh balcony seat. Very clever.

The ceiling inside the opera house. This is not the original. It was made on top of the original (however, the original is preserved underneath...there's about an inch between the two ceilings) in the 1980's (I think) to spike interest again in L'Opera Garnier. There are several scenes in the picture...each one with a different color background.

A copy of the original ceiling.

The grand hall. This is where the creme de la creme would meet and socialize. Oh and only the creme de la creme could afford to be season ticket holders to the opera.

At each end of the hall, there was a MASSIVE fireplace. It was understood that if people were behind the fireplace, they were discussing extremely important business and mustn't be disturbed. We are DEFINITELY discussing extremely important business and shouldn't be disturbed, but we DO find time to pose for a picture.

Balcony outside the grand hall.

There was so much more to the opera house. If you have the opportunity to go to Paris and have time, I suggest this tour. It will blow you away!

After L'Opera Garnier, we made our way to Rue de Royal. The street is filled with swanky designer shops and such. About 30 minutes of all of the finery that I couldn't, nor would I want to afford, was about enough for me. We made our way to the River Seine for a boat ride. Along the way, we found the best little macaroon place and had a proper sample. Tres yum!

Lady Liberty along side the Eiffel Tower?? I feel so at home!

It was a gorgeous day for a boat ride along the Seine. It was nice to sit (or stand) and enjoy the ride.

Musee d'Orsay. This was built as a train station for one of the World's Fair's hosted by Paris. It's now a museum...it's my understanding that it sorta picks up where the Louvre leaves off. My kinda art; unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to check it out this time 'round.

After the boat ride, we went to Musee du Quai Branly. There was a jazz exhibit at the museum. I found it fascinating how U.S. musicians influenced music in other countries...WHILE thousands of miles away. :-). Also, it was incredible how much white Americans tried to take credit for innovating and cultivating jazz. Of course, we know the story of jazz...I'm no expert, but even I know about the greats who began playing in New Orleans...Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll, etc. However, the articles from the time were giving credit to white Americans who most people have never heard of... it was quite laughable and terribly sad to say the least. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm sure people from every ethnicity had some influence in the cultivation of jazz; reading some of these articles, though, was quite like reading fiction. Unfortunately, there were no pictures allowed. :-(

We had a long day, but it was far from over! When I say Euro-sprint, I mean it!

We more than worked up an incredible appetite, so Etienne took us to one of his favorite restaurants, Chez Francoise. It had an upscale piano bar sort of atmosphere. Quite nice...and the food; oy! I had lobe de foie gras (I know, but when in Paris...), entrecote de boeuf, jus au thyme, pommes sautees (filet with herb sauce and sauteed potatoes), mousse de chocolate blanc, compotee de fruits rouges (white chocolate mousse with fruit), cafe and chocolat. Of course we had plenty of wine as well. Oh my! Everything was so delicious. I saved a menu :-)

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