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Thursday, June 16, 2016

This is what you call a 'Rest Day'

So, yesterday was 'out-of-control' busy. We resolved sleep in and maybe venture out to do something in the afternoon.

Do you like that 'maybe?' Well, it was more of a DEFINITELY. You see, the day we went to the Champagne Region for the bike tour, one of the ladies on the tour was telling us about the Paris Opera House. She said - 'You MUST visit this place and you MUST take a guided tour!' So, while we were waiting for something yesterday, we looked the building up on the net, and very quickly got interested and booked a tour. Good thing we did as when we arrived, English tours were sold out.

But, back to the sleep-in....

When you are staying in a studio apartment, a sleep-in only works if everyone is on the same page. Unfortunately, when on vacation I simply cannot sleep in. I try – and fail. This day, I forgot to take off my fitbit and was awoken by the ‘silent alarm.’ And, let me tell you - if you ever have trouble getting out of bed, then a silent alarm on a Fitbit is the answer for you. The ‘alarm’ is a vibration on the band around my wrist and is controlled using an app on the phone. So, as normal – the alarm ‘sounded’ and I was wide awake. We were sleeping on a double bed, so the tossing and turning wasn’t appreciated. And, so I got up. I tried to keep the noise down. But, I was tripping over things, dropping things ……. I tried to be quiet and failed. So, Kylie didn’t have as much of a sleep-in as she would have preferred.

So, on the subway (we are professionals on the Paris subway by now) and we come out and are greeted with THIS

What a spectacular building! And, guess what – THIS IS WHERE WE ARE HEADING! I was very excited! But, first, we were in need of a coffee. So, we filmed it.

So, this building we are visiting - here is a brief intro;

The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It became known as the Palais Garnier, in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier. The Palais Garnier has been called "probably the most famous opera house in the world." This is at least partly due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera and, especially, the novel's subsequent adaptations in films and Andrew Lloyd Webber's popular 1986 musical. Another contributing factor is that among the buildings constructed in Paris during the Second Empire, besides being the most expensive, it has been described as the only one that is "unquestionably a masterpiece of the first rank."

Thanks Wiki!

But, stepping into the building is simply awe-inspiring at every turn! We started the tour in the 'Members Entrance' and met our tour guide who was full of life and interesting stories about the building. 

Can you read the message in the ceiling? No? Either could I.
This entrance was fascinating as it was opulent and decorated beautifully. But, it was not grand. But, as one progressed into the building, the decoration was getting grander.

Up to this point - we were amazed. The detail in this was just mind blowing. We weren't ready for what was to come.

This isn't my photo (thanks Google). The lighting is really difficult (thats my excuse and I'm sticking to it).

As if our minds were not already blown, we were taken to an area that was originally designed as Napoleons entrance (he never lived to see the building complete and as such, it was left in a raw state) but has now been converted to a library/museum section. One of the exhibits we saw here was (again) mind-blowing.

I know - it doesn't look very impressive.

Our guide explained that the round painting that we are now looking at was the original ceiling of the auditorium, painted by Jules Eugène Lenepveu. I expected to hear that it was damaged due to the roof collapsing or by fire or something like that. No - nothing like that. It was just decided that a change was needed. So, in 1964, a new ceiling painted by Marc Chagall was installed on a removable frame over the original. It depicts scenes from operas by 14 composers – Mussorgsky, Mozart, Wagner, Berlioz, Rameau, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Adam, Bizet, Verdi, Beethoven, and Gluck. Although praised by some, others feel Chagall's work creates "a false note in Garnier's carefully orchestrated interior."

Here is a closer look at the original ceiling;

And, here is the new ceiling;

What is my verdict? I like the new ceiling - i really do. But, in the setting, I don't think its appropriate. Having said that, it is a much loved piece of art. When we were looking at it, Kylie said to the lady next to us something along the lines of 'Such a shame, isn't it?" to which she responded 'Unless you are a Chagall fan, like I am.' Eeeek! Lets get out of here quickly!!!

Here are some pics of the interior of the auditorium;

The controversial ceiling is directly above this....

So, how impressive was that building? But, the most impressive part was yet to come. We were shown the parts of the building as we would have experienced them if we attended the opera back in the day. We would enter, go up the grand staircase and be taken to our seats. But, the whole idea of going to the opera back then was to see and be seen. The best time and place to do this would be at the Grand Foyer during intermission. And, let me tell you - it IS grand! The photos simply cannot convey the opulence.

The floor, the walls, the ceiling, the decoration - it was just mind-blowing. Some on our tour even made the suggestion that it was more 'over-the-top' than the palace at Versailles. The tour guide agreed.

A photo posted by ब्रूनो (@mynameisbrunob) on

Kylie and I both loved the tour so much that we booked tickets to come back the next night and watch the ballet. One of the ladies on our tour told us that they sell 10 Euro tickets with obstructed view. It wasn't really the ballet that we were going there to see - it was the AMAZING building again.

Home again ..... but, it was just to get ready to go out again. For some reason, when we have been travelling between cities, we have been travelling on Sundays. So first thing we did when we arrived in Paris, was work out when we were going to get to the midweek meeting for an English congregation in Paris. And, as it turned out - it was tonight. And, the congregations name was Paris Anglaise Opera.

Its such a wonderful feeling to walk into a place on the other side of the world and immediately feel at home, among family.

Since it is an English speaking congregation, we met people from all over the world. We met a brother who is a need-greater from New Zealand (who happened to know some Kiwi's from my home congregation), we met a couple from Las Vegas who were also visiting that night 'spying out the land' for possible future plans, and we even met a sister originally from Melbourne who met her husband of four months Metro Witnessing in the Melbourne CBD.

Another big tomorrow - our Bike Tour of Versailles. So much for the rest day today.....


  1. Elizabeth PentlandJune 16, 2016 at 9:43 AM

    Amazing once again BB & KJ. Thanks for sharing. Love Wiki as a wealth of interesting information. Wiki and the Insight books were my 'go to' resources when preparing my photobooks!

  2. What words can I say other thanwhat you used.Thank you for taking the time to blog and send all these pictures and info.I went to paris when I was younger and never really appreciated the history or the buildings till your efforts in posting.
    Thank You so much. Paula


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