Sunday, July 18, 2010

Paris - Opera District

Having been to Paris before in 2004 and visited all the "must see" sites like the Louvre, Eiffel Tour, Arc de Triomph, etc., this trip is meant to see the rest of Paris that we missed, and look for places off the beaten tourist track.

We started our second day in Paris with a tour of the Opera Garnier, which was the setting for the gothic novel The Phantom of the Opera. We learned that the Opera house was built on top of a subterrean lake which caused the foundation to be unstable, but also inspired the location for the Phantom's lair. We were shown the infamous chandelier with the Chagall ceiling painting, and box #5 which was supposed to be the Phantom's box, right next to the larger and more elegant box for Napolean III.

This was next followed by a visit to two of Paris' largest department stores, both with beautiful stain glass ceilings. Au Primtemps had this beautiful ceiling as part of it's 6th floor tea room. We went up there for cafe frappes after a long day of walking around, and just sat there marvelling over the beauty.

Galeries Lafayette's ceiling was in the middle of the department store and was comparable in size and splendor. It also had an open terrace on it's top floor with a panoramic view of Paris. We had lunch in their cafeteria and were amused by the "wine dispensers" that were right next to the soft drink dispensers. There was also an orange juice press that automatically squeezed fresh oranges to produce delicious juice while you pressed the lever.

We ended the day revisiting one of our favourite shopping areas from the first trip, which was Place Madelaine where we again bought more exotic mustard flavours from the Maille store. This store sells only Maille products and carries mustard flavours not available in North America, such as "apricot and curry", "pistachio and tangerine", "hazelnut and trompette mushrooms", and pesto. We returned as well to Maison de Truffles and bought 2 small pieces of real truffles (which cost a whopping 34 Euros!) which we'll have as a treat for our wedding anniversary dinner in August. Also passed by Caviar Kaspia, but decided we'd splurged enough for the day.

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