Hey Experts here's my report for the Opera Area:
The alarm woke me as scheduled at 8:30 AM. It’s my day 7 and gone is the need to get up at the crack of dawn to do anything I’ve planned. I stretch, yawn and try to remember last night. Ah yes conversation with Cookie is now behind me and I feel the need to get up out of bed and start this brand new day with plenty of zeal having slept like a new born babe. I put on some coffee, turn on the TV and peek out the living room drapes. It looks a little cloudy but the sun wants to make an appearance off in the horizon.
Wardrobe: Yellow Silk Blouse – Vera Wang on sale at Kohl’s which always has good prices for her collection. Black Stretch Slacks – H&M, Button down Grey Cardigan – Zara, Black Patent Loafers-Gucci, black Rivet Faux Leather Jacket and a new scarf I picked up at Grand Cerf Passage.
I head out the door about 9:30 and go have a little breakfast at Café Marie Stuart. The staff during the week is much better than the weekend crew and they make a mean Café Crème. Today I decide to take the bus instead of the Metro and head over to Etienne Marcel to catch Bus 29. I had already checked the schedule using the RATP app and it came right on schedule. The bus ride was nice and quick. Who knew that ten minutes later I would be practically at the Opera’s front steps? Had I known this I would have opted to walk. As the bus draws nearer I see that magnificent edifice that is the Opera. Holy cow what a beautiful building with the Galleries Lafayette right behind it. It was early but there were lots of people sitting right on the steps. I cross the street and walk right up to it and out comes the camera. I can understand why this building is where Parisians go on a night out on the town. Of the areas I visited The Opera is one of my favorites. I don’t know why but it reminds me of New York’s Columbus Circle.
After a full inspection of the exterior I look at my watch and it’s almost 11AM. I plan to go in but as I’m walking around I find literally across the street the Paris Story at 11 Rue Scribe. Now I didn’t have this on any itinerary and had read that it was kind of hokey put what the hay it’s early, and today I’m giving everything a shot. I walk in and down a flight of stairs to find a gift shop/lobby area. . I pay the 10.50 euros for the audiovisual show and was not disappointed. There’s this really cool interactive map of the city with all the main points of interest lit up. In just under an hour I received a history lesson covering 2000 years of Paris. I loved it and IMO this is a must see if you want to consider yourself a true Francophile. So put it on your list especially if it’s raining. I bought the DVD in the gift shop and my girls loved it’s depiction of the whole city in different periods.
OK so there went my morning and as I exit and walk a few steps down the street I find The Fragonard Perfume Museum at 9 Rue Scribe. It looks like history is the theme for today. This was not only very informative, if you’re into the art of making perfume, it was FREE. The building is very beautiful and I didn’t mind waiting the 10 minutes for a group to form in order to take the guided tour. I think I may have found a museum that Cookie might actually find interesting. I make a note in my journal to share this with her. At the end of the tour there’s a really nice gift shop where you can try many perfumes but are under no obligation to buy but you know me I’m going to buy. I received a 10% discount for having the Paris Pass. Yes! I knew this would come in handy for more than short lines. The perfumes were all reasonably priced for French Perfume and the packaging was very elegant. I sampled a few and ended up spending about 260 euro for 6-100ml bottles. Not a bad price when you consider that Chanel No 5 will set you back about $200. Not that there’s anything wrong with that mind you. (It’s my signature perfume) These perfumes can’t be purchased in the US so it makes for a truly special gift to take back home.
Here are the scents I purchased: Diamant, Fragonard, Capucine, Etoile, Emilie. I also purchased the matching soaps in heart and pebble shapes and Cookie got the bath salts. My girls have really loved the perfumes and now want me to bring another batch back when I go in September. You see why you can’t be nice right. So fashionistas this is definitely a good idea for a break from the normal site seeing traps.
By now it’s almost two o’clock and I don’t know if all the perfume was making my tummy tumble or I was just hungry but I was hungry. For some reason since I’ve been in Paris around all this great food my body has been telling me when it’s time to sit and have another fabulous meal. I obey but it has to be quick because I want to start touring the Opera by 3 PM. I find 16 Haussmann and it looks like a really nice place to eat but I figure one would definitely need a reservation to get into this joint. I make a note in my journal for September with hubby. Right next door to the Opera I find Café de la Paix and brother what a view. I think its part of a hotel and looked pricey but I’m now very hungry so I enter and by pointing tell the waiter I want to sit outside. The staff was very friendly and the food was excellent. I had the fromages affines salad and the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had all for 28 euro. I make a note in my journal pricey but worth it I write and I have to come back to this exact location at night to see what the Opera looks like. This place is also a great way to people watch as it seemed everybody was out and about by now. It was a real shame I had to rush through the meal in order to have enough time to see the inside of the Opera.
I can safely say that the Opera Garnier is everything our Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln center in NYC is not. Not that there’s anything wrong with our version of the Opera just that the French have us beat by a mile when it comes to opulence and granger. For you architect lovers this building is it! It’s not included in the museum pass but well worth the 9 euro entrance fee which will also give you access to the museum. The highlight for me was the Marc Chagall Ceiling and The Grand Staircase. The plush red opera seats will make anyone feel like royalty while watching a performance. I make a note to check the upcoming calendar of events so I can come back with hubby in September or more like force him to come watch a performance. Hubby and Cookie share this aversion to anything that’s on stage. In their words they can nap at home for free. But I’ll try my best to convince him to give it a go. I finish my visit at the museum which had a very nice display of costumes and models. And guess what? There is a lake beneath the Opera but no phantom has been spotted. It’s used as a training facility for Parisian firefighters.
After having added touring the Opera as a notch on my Parisian belt it’s now almost 5 PM and as I exit I find myself walking towards Galleries Lafayette. WOW! Just doesn’t cover it. Though I was beginning to tire after the Opera stint there’s nothing like a shopping mall and better yet one that looks like this to give me a second wind. I do recall singing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah as I crossed the street. Now you guys may be thinking I was all shopped out from my excursion at Chanel the day before. No way! I had read about this mall before going but in no way shape or form had I imagined it this Spectacular. Leave it to Paris to build a cathedral dedicated to shopping. Every designer is in here even Chanel. Even if you don’t plan to shop this place is well worth a visit. Go take a look at that beautiful dome ceiling with its stained glass. The rooftop has some of the best views of Paris all the way to the Eiffel. There are chairs and benches where you can sit and enjoy the view. I had a 10% discount coupon from my Paris Pass and used it all over this mall. It worked everywhere except at Pierre Hermes. Yes they’re in here too. I was also happy to find Nat Et Ninn. They are a French Designer Label that make the most beautiful handbags and wallets at pretty decent prices compared to LV. One of my girls had recently shown me an article in W magazine (this is the magazine of must read for fashionistas in my home) that featured this company. The young salesgirl was very nice and literally stuck by me for about 40 minutes helping me select items for my girls. She had a wonderful sense of what young ladies are wearing and was a big help. So after picking up a few items here and there, I started to get hungry and took the escalator up to the top again to find the Lafayette Café. Do yourselves a favor and don’t eat here. The food or at least what I had was way overpriced and not very tasty. It’s like a self serve buffet type meal and I had the croquette sandwich, a caramel crème desert and a Sprite for 15.50 euro. I sat up there eating my no so great sandwich, looking out the window at the view while taking notes to avoid this cafe in the future.
It’s now almost closing time and I dash downstairs to get my VAT paperwork done before leaving. I truly fell in love with this place and if it wasn’t because I was leaving the next day to Giverny early AM, I would have planned to come back. As I exit to walk towards the bus that will take me back to my apartment, I pass The Opera again and this time there’s a mini concert being given by some really cute French guy. I squeeze in on the steps and join all the people singing Back Street Boys ‘Aint nothing but a Heartache” I loved the atmosphere. It reminded me of being young and going to Central Park for the free summer concerts. Not a bad way to end a day. I actually walked home bags in tow and thinking it couldn’t get any better than this.
Next Report – Giverny & Normandy