Last night in Paris

October 6, 2012 - Paris, France

Each of the past three days have brought more special moments.

Palais Garnier......lwhat an extraordinary building!  It was built on the orders of Napoleon 111 as an opera house and now houses the Paris opera.  There was no performances this week but just to visit the building was enough of an experience......sweeping marble staircases,Nast and richly  decorated foyers and of course the Grand Foyer which has a ceiling painted by Paul Baudry portrayingq themes from the history of music.We did not know whether we wild be able to get into the main auditorium, but one of the doors into a box was open and we snuck inside into darkness.  On stage they were building a set.  We were trying to take some photos in the dark, when ....magically.....the lights went on and we could see the red and gold auditorium, lit by an immense crystal chandelier under a vividly colored ceiling painted by Marc Chagall.  Literally breath-taking!

Tuileries Gardens!  So beautiful walking through these gardens.....many flowers still in bloom bu the trees just starting to change color.....on our way to the Orangerie.  This gallery houses huge panoramic Water Lily

paintings by Monet in two very large oval rooms.  It was very interesting to read the story....that Money gifted these paintings to the French people on the day World War 1 finished as a gesture towards Peace - not just physical peace of the French people but the inner peace of collective humanity.  Sadly, Impressionism fell out of favour in the  twenties and the paintings were abandoned and left uncared for.  The gallery apparently underwent different incarnations but it wasn't until the most recent one, which began in 2000 and finished in 2006, that the works of Monet were finally displayed in the manner they deserved.  Also at the gallery we saw beautiful paintings by Renoir, Cezanne, Gauguin, Picasso and other lesser known (to me) painters.  We decided that this was such a lovely gallery to visit, we really didn't need to pursue any others!

More music!  Vivaldi in Sainte Chapelle with the setting sun filtering through the stained glass windows!  It was a joy to listen to an excellent ensemble, led by an amazing violinist, not only playing piercingly sweet music but also with a very dramatic persona........introducing a great deal of light and shade into the whole experience!  After the encore, he blew a kiss to the audience with a flourish......as if to say "that's it.......go home now.....you've had your lot!!!"

Cinema!  Something different saw us going to an exhibition called "Paris vu par Hollywood". (Paris through the eyes of Hollywood!   It was a whole retrospective of films set in Paris from the earliest silent movies, through the cloak and dagger films such as "Scaramouche", and onto all those musicals such as "An American in Paris, Gigi, Funny Girl etc - with Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Maurice Chevalier, Leslie Caron and of course Audrey Hepburn!  This was Paris but all constructed in Hollywood!  There were all sorts of memorabilia.....film clips, story boards, costumes .  More recent films have featured Paris itself, including the very recent "Midnight in Paris" , where it was very interesting to see the research that went into creating Gertrude Stein's salon,  all from original sketches, etc.

The Marais...our home ground.  We have walked up and down winding streets featuring such a variety of shops selling.....high fashion, buttons and bows, paintings, chocolates (including small adult size high heel shoes entirely made of chocolate), ice-cream (cornetto cones but with several favors of icecream sculpted into the petals of a rose - delicious) and of course food of all varieties!  We agreed that it was just as well we were leaving tomorrow as we would have just gone on shopping!!!

Being great fans of "Les Miserables", we had to visit the home of Victor Hugo in the Place de Vosges.  The apartment has been re-created in the style it was when he lived there.....a very roomy but rather heavy atmosphere, probably very conducive to writing heavy novels!

The icing on the cake......an evening trip up and down the Seine......buildings floodlit on either side......creating a huge Wow factor!!  It is a credit to Paris that they have retained all this historic area so beautifully...not a sky scraper in sight in the central city....and all parking stations underground.  The Eiffel tower looked most impressive, not only floodlit but with flashing lights dancing  and down it ..and an old.fashioned carousel on front of it.  A lovely way to spend an evening just floating around drinking it all in.

On a slightly sadder note we stumbled across the "Diana" memorial...to Princess Diana of course.  It was originally a memorial to Freedom but as it is directly above the underpass where she was killed, it has become a bit of a shrine to her memory.  On the day we were there, there were messages and a few flowers.

We leave Paris tomorrow and head for Amiens.  We feel well satisfied.......there is always of course more to see and do....but it will have to wait for another time.  It is Saturday night here, and as we sign off for now, an African drumming band has just passed beneath our window followed by an enthusiastic crowd....how will Robbo and North Melbourne ever compete with this?

Love from us both and see you soon

Wendy and Roe

 

 


3 Comments

Tracey Puckeridge:
October 7, 2012
Sounds just Paris perfect! The Palais Garnier was where Margie and I saw a ballet and we didn;t know what was better, the ballet or the theatre! Both I guess!

Not usre how you will settle back into Robbo after this! I guess by planning the next adventure...

xx
Belinda Caldwell:
October 7, 2012
Say hi to Villers Bretonneux for me! Make sure you get into see the little museum they have - used to be only open if you knew someone- the local grocer pointed me in the right direction.
Joanna:
October 8, 2012
Sounds **!!:o)(o:
All the best for the fields of France.
J xx
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