As Day 4 begins, let’s do a quick recap of Day 3, 12/27/12.
After a mere few hours of sleep, we crawled out of bed and headed out to our tour of Le Palais Garnier, the incredible building that houses the Opera of Paris. This building…just…wow. Huge, ornate, ostentatious yet glorious at the same time. Our tour was led by an interesting lady, an American historian obviously in love with Paris.
The highlight was our first stop, the top of Les Galleries Lafayette (a department store) with a stunning view of Paris. We all literally gasped as we came up the escalator and out the door.
The next few hours were spent listening to our guide talk about the construction of the building, built by the “new money” of the mid 19th century as a way to proclaim their status. I guess that’s one way to make yourselves known:
The best story of the tour took the whole tour to tell. The summary is this:
At the opera, the dancers were often “sheltered” by wealthy Parisian men – they weren’t paid for these “services,” but lavish gifts were expected and accepted. So a bunch of jewelry stores were opened along the road leading the opera. A few blocks away, because of all the shopping, luxury hotels sprang up. German generals stayed there during WWII, and one of them had a beautiful view of the city. When he was ordered by Hitler to basically blow up the entire city (Notre Dame, the bridges, etc), he carefully delayed doing so, and the Allies were able to liberate the city along with the French forces. So the dancers, in effect, saved Paris.
Post-tour, we met up with a friend from years past for lunch, also atop the Galleries Lafayette. The food in this cafeteria was incredible (no fish sticks here!) and so was the view:
We enjoyed this view while eating nocciola (hazelnut) gelato, for which, I confess, I have been searching since the last time I was in Europe, 15 years ago (yes, it was that long ago). It was as sublime as I remember.
Then it was off to the Musées – d’Orangerie (Monet’s Water Lillies) was first. While I know it was impressive to see those massive paintings, it honestly was the least whelming of the museum experiences so far. Next was a show called Plan B, by Théatre de Ronde Point, before which we had drinks (this is important info for later). Plan B was delightful; a cheeky and creative movement show that had a little Streb, a little Momix, a little cirque…and a whole lot of fun. As Jenn said “I’d recommend it to anyone who can see.”
Post show, a little drama evolved as I found myself without my purse. Luckily, I had only left it in the restaurant in the theater and they had it for me, but it was definitely embarassing to trip over my lousy French when trying to get it back. At least I know how to say “Merci beaucoup.”
Then, we headed to the Musée d’Orsay with a little stop on the bridge to see the sparkly Eiffel Tower…again. I took a video of if, but technical details are preventing me from sharing it. Yeah, that’s it. It wasn’t that the only one who looked remotely excited in the video was Jenn – I sounded bored, which was NOT the case, but I think the side effect of about a dozen museums in 3 days – fatigue – was kicking in. Trust me, the sparkly Eiffel Tower is very cool.
Anyway, back to the point. We joined the late-night crowd at the Musée d’Orsay (a huge-ass museum that used to be a train station).
Musee d’Orsay remains one of my favorite places just for it’s size, architecture and variety of paintings that I’ve seen in cheap frames on friends’ walls.
And then, we headed home for sleep. Since I’m behind on blogging, it’s getting hard to keep track of days (it’s now the beginning of day 6) but I will do my best. Because, after all, I know you’re all just dying for more notes from Paris.