Friday, January 31, 2014

Around Town ~ Palais Garnier

When people think of the Palais Garnier, they typically think of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, the Phantom of the Opera.  There is a lake under the building and the architecture and details of the interior are flamboyant, I'll call it neo-gothic, though it's really much more than that.  Perhaps the style is more like a French Rococo.

I had never been before, even after all our visits as tourists to the City of Light and during the past two years of our living here.  Visiting the Palais hadn't, until now, rising to the top of our list of things to see.

The day we decided to cross it off our list of place experienced it was cold, wet, and well, very Parisian Winter-like. The weather worked to our advantage, it turned out.  Very few people were out and about and only two small groups of people were ahead of us in line at the billetterie.

Yes, the 10Euro admission fee was a little steep for such a small venue.  The Louvre has ten miles of aisles to walk for only 10Euro.  Still, we were amazed.  The architecture was grander than my wildest expectations.

A short step lead us to the bottom of a huge staircase.  That's when our jaws dropped.

Entry included access to the rez de chaussee and the first level.  The upper level and front of the building (the one facing the Opera metro station) were closed the day we were there.  Still, there was plenty to see, including two viewing boxes from which we could see the stage, seats, and interesting Chagall painted ceiling.

We could see how "the other half" liked to live.  The place is posh beyond belief.  No wonder the Garnier is on the Tourist List of Must See - If Not Slightly Overpriced (4Euro would have been more like it) - places to visit when in Paris.

If you take a similar route to our's, note that tour guides may say something to you if you happen to be in the same room at the same time as they are.  They want their money and they don't want suspected free-loaders tagging along.  One such guide said something to Judith even though we weren't in any way interested in the Chinese language tour that was being given.  We just happened to be standing there taking it all in.

From a photographer's perspective, the Palais Garnier is an absolute "must."  So if you can, plan your visit when few people are there and you won't have to try and work around all the other gawkers.  For that's what you'll no doubt be doing, too.  Slack-jawed gawking.

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