Looking back at our whole trip, I think that this was one of my favourite days in Paris. The day started out with a quick breakfast at our hotel, and then we hopped onto the metro to the Opéra Garnier. After reading the book The Painted Girls a number of years ago and growing up with The Phantom of the Opera, I was so excited to finally step foot into the historic building.
Walking out of the metro we had our backs to the opera house. As I turned around and got my first glimpse of the building I was in total awe. I feel like all the pictures that we took just don’t fully capture its beauty, nor its magnitude.
Walking around to the side of the building, we entered the great house (entrance through the front steps is reserved for those attending performances only). After going through security, visiting the washroom, and buying our tickets we set off to explore.
As we entered the first room, we were taken aback by all the detail and beauty. It wasn’t until we ascended the first staircase that we got a glimpse of the famous grand staircase. The banisters were dripping with fresh flowers and there was so much gold all over the room that it seemed that almost everything had been touched by King Midas. We spent so much time just staring at the room and trying to soak up as many of the beautiful details as possible, but it was almost too much beauty for us to process.
After lingering on the grand staircase for a while, we made our way to the Grand Foyer. It seemed like an unassuming room at first, but as soon as you took a couple steps inside you were surrounded in opulence. Chandeliers and columns both sparkling with gold leaf and a grand painted ceiling made it impossible to know just where to look. The room was so grand that I could easily imagine it filled with all of Paris society; ladies in their gowns and gentlemen donning their tails, filling the room with conversation.
The Grand Foyer also led to an outside balcony. We stepped outside and took in the cool air and enjoyed the view of the busy intersection below.
We then walked through a portion of the library. It was so large and filled with so many books that Jenn thought that they weren’t real (check out the video at the bottom of the post). After emerging from the library, we were able to take a quick peek at the auditorium itself. To be completely honest, after the grand staircase and foyer, the auditorium was a tad underwhelming. It was still beautiful, with all the rich, red velvet and gorgeous (and deadly) chandelier and painted ceiling, but maybe I was expecting more? All-in-all the Opéra Garnier lived up (and exceeded) my high expectations. It still remains one of my favourite buildings.
Our next stop was the fancy department store, Galeries Lafayette, where we browsed the luxury goods, took advantage of the free wi-fi, and admired the beautiful views from the top-floor Starbucks. We browsed two more stores in the area (Printemps and C&A) before heading back on the metro to the Tuileries.
After not really having lunch, and craving another caramel crepe, we stopped by the same little stand as the day before and, once again, enjoyed an afternoon snack.
After resting our feet with a seat on the classic green metal chairs that are abundant in all Paris parks, we made our way over the to Place de la Concorde. We crossed the busy street and stared up at the giant Egyptian Obelisk. We took a couple pictures near the iconic fountains, and stood at the exact spot where Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI were guillotined in 1793.
Our next stop was the Musee de l’Orangerie. Once inside, we made a beeline for two rooms housing Monet’s famous Water Lilies. The oval rooms, with their diffused natural light, are the perfect space for these amazing paintings. The serenity evoked by the art and the space makes me wish that I could visit each and every lunch break to escape the craziness of every day life.
After a quick tour of the rest of the post-impressionist art on the bottom floor, and the museum’s gift shop and we hopped onto the metro again down to our favourite foodie shop (la Grande Epicerie). We collected some supplies for a picnic dinner and breakfasts for the next two days (croissants, apricot jam, fresh raspberries, dried apricots and wine). We took our haul back to the hotel and had a wonderfully satisfying dinner.
After dinner, we set out on the metro once again to snap some night pictures of the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. The pyramid at night is stunning. It’s a beacon in the middle of the courtyard and cast an elegant glow over the area. We even discovered that the inner courtyard was still open and it was practically empty. We took our time walking through the eerily quite and enormous space.
And so, our third day in Paris came to a close. We crawled into bed eagerly anticipating our visit to the mighty palace of Versailles in the morning.
If you’re interested, check out two videos of the Opera House that I recorded: