The Paris Opera House.

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One of the really cool things about the apartment we’re staying in is that it’s so close to the centre of town. The Eiffel Tower pops up everywhere, as does the gold dome of the Invalides, where Napoleon is buried. This is a market that happens twice a week, literally one door down from our place. We decided to do our shopping for dinner here, before going off to the Musée Marmottan for more Monets.

You can never have too much of Monet when you’re in Paris. However, I digress.

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The food was crisp and fresh and the people were lively. The market was smaller than it usually would be, as so many Parisians go on holidays during August. (This means it’s a good time to come… the streets are less crowded.)

IMG_6351They even had fresh fish.

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However, look at these peaches! I’ve never seen any this shape before. I bought one for dessert and it was lovely, so I’ve placed an order with Daley’s to let me know when they have any available.

Then it was off to the Marmottan. They don’t let you take photos, as I found out when I took a photo of this Chagall:

IMG_6353A guard came up to me, clicking his tongue in disapproval. I put my phone away, though I couldn’t help wishing I could show you some of the pictures. They were incredible, especially this one. I bought a copy to put in my room.

But then, as I was wondering in one of the duller upstairs rooms, I saw a portrait. It was in with some Napoleonic family members. I wandered over to it. ‘Desiree Clary.’

OMG. I spluttered with excitement and leaned in to read the label. YES!!!!! Yes, it was her. I was so rapt. When I was a teenager I picked up an old book in a second-hand book shop called ‘Desirée’. It was written in diary form, about a young silk merchant’s daughter who was once engaged to Napoleon Bonaparte, who ended up marrying a French General and, when he was offered the Swedish crown by the Swedish people, ended up becoming Queen of Sweden and Norway. Her descendants still sit on the Swedish throne today, as well as 4 other countries. It’s an incredible story and it’s TRUE. I had to circumvent the guards and get a photo.

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What a find. I was inarticulate with bliss, which must have been annoying for Scott. Or maybe it was a relief, who knows? When we got home that night I hunted up the novel on kindle and it’s now on my ipad, being read. I’m loving it, especially because I now know where a lot of the places she talks about look like and where they are. Isn’t living in the modern age lovely? So convenient for things like this.

Anyway, we had some time to spare after leaving the museum, so we took a stroll along the Bois de Boulogne in the middle of the day. As you do.

IMG_6357Here’s the track to cut across to it, between where the museum is and where the park is. You wouldn’t believe that we were in the centre of the suburbs, would you?

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This is a restaurant across the lake. We ate our cheap and cheerful lunch from the market, then took a ferry across to see what was over there.

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Nothing much, as it happens, so we hung around for awhile, enjoying the shade and the greenery. Then it was off, back into Paris for our 2:30 tour of the Opera House.

IMG_6368Look up! This is in a French department store. Scott was after some Lalique and we were trying to hunt it down before the opera house tour.

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It was mayhem down on the ground floor, while above was all beauty and serenity. But no Lalique. We had to leave the hunt and go and join the tour.

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Here’s the front of the Opera House, where the phantom lives. The story goes that there was a competition to design Paris’s new opera hous. This design came up. The Empress Eugénie said to Garnier, the designer, “What is this? It’s not classical, it’s not any clear sort of architecture.”

He replied, “Those styles have passed. This is the style of Napoleon III.”

She loved that answer so he got the job.

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The Grand Staircase was the first thing we saw. In the nineteenth century you really didn’t go to the opera to hear the music… you came to see and be seen. So this was almost like an extension to the stage. People could slowly parade around in their fashionable clothes, while enjoying all of the marble, mosaics and sumptuous surroundings.

 

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Mosaics. These were both on the ceilings and the floors. The reasoning was that rich people wouldn’t come unless they could have surroundings that amazed even them.

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These were on the staircase.

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Nice shoes.

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I like the lines in this one. It’s a side view of the staircase as we were dragged out to look at a drawing of the plans of the whole place. This part of the tour was a bit dull so I’ve spared you.

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Then we went in to see the actual theatre, along with the famous roof by Chagall.

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I loved it. It really didn’t suit the rest of the place at all, as it was all so opulent and red and gold, but it looked gorgeous all the same.

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See the lines on either side of the bird? That’s how big the canvases are. I think the tour guide said there were 24.

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Here is box 5, where the phantom comes to listen to the performances…

Then we wandered around until we came to a place that blew my mind.

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The Grand Foyer.

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I think I’m saying, “Look up!”

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And…

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Very reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, particularly as we only saw it yesterday, but where the Hall of Mirrors was all light and air, this was all sumptuous and glitz.

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Detail of what the columns look like.

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I loved it.

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And here’s a last shot almost echoing the Hall of Mirrors shots we got.

Then it was off to Printemps to hunt down Lalique.

 

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Woo hoo!! FINALLY! Success!

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Scott was a happy man. But would they have the thing he was looking for in stock?

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Why yes. Yes they did.

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Look at how they put something in a bag for you. Lovely.

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And then we finished the day with dinner at home, with the produce we bought from the market and the boulangerie. But first we had a drink at our local café. How could we not?

 

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