SEPTEMBER 11, 2013
The Opera House & The Phantom of the Opera
We slept well after our long travel and adventures the day before. We woke up early to get ready for our pre arranged tour of the Opera House. To our surprise our host had left us a lovely breakfast on the kitchen table.
The tour of the Opera House was a lot more than I expected! The Palais Garnier is so overwhelmingly ornate and grande! It was wonderful to admire art in it’s meant to be location vrs a museum! Rob really enjoyed the visit as well. It was easy to image all the rich and royalty in their gowns parading up and down the Grand Staircase!
Our tour guide entertained us with historic stores and lore. Even how the 7-ton bronze and crystal chandelier mysteriously fell killing a member of the audience. The incident later inspired one of the scenes in the gothic novel The Phantom of the Opera!
The Palais Garnier is “probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, or the Sacré Coeur Basilica. This is at least partly due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera. 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.”
(CLICK THE PHOTOS FOR MORE INFORMATION)
It took one and a half decades to build the opera house!
It was built on the orders of Napoleon III as part of the great Parisian reconstruction project carried out by Baron Haussmann. The project for an opera house was put out to competition and was won by Charles Garnier, an unknown 35-year-old architect. Building work, which lasted fifteen years, from 1860 to 1875, was interrupted by numerous incidents, including the 1870 war, the fall of the Empire and the Commune. The Palais Garnier was inaugurated on 5 January 1875.
On opening day in 1875, one critic quipped that there would be no need to stage performances because the building was in itself a dazzling spectacle. More recently, an arts broadcaster described the Palais Garnier as “Versailles for everyone.”
We hit back to the streets after a very overwhelming morning at the Opera House and found our way to the Louvre. Although the Louvre was at the top of my list of things to see in Paris, but our limited time did not permit us to fill an entire day viewing its collection of nearly 400,000 items (including the Mona Lisa and Venus De Milo). Perhaps on another trip?!
Pont du Arts Bridge
A short walk from the Louvre is the Pont du Arts bridge over looking the Seine. What makes this bridge extra special is in it’s unique tradition for couples. The bridge is covered in padlocks… the love padlocks, called Cadenas d’amour, multiplied until there were thousands of love tokens on the bridge, each engraved with a message of love. After locking the love padlock onto the fence, lovers toss the keys into the Seine river – a sign of their eternal devotion.
Au Revoir Paris
It was time to grab a bite to eat and say goodbye to Paris! We packed up our backpacks and made our way to the train station. Of course there was enough time to grab a little chocolate treat from the local bakery! My limited french came in handy as neither pastry chef nor a local customer understood a word of English! Although it was a challenge everyone was so kind and helpful!
We boarded our first (and rob’s first ever) train of the journey. Armed with snacks and wine, we got comfortable for our 4 hour high speed train trip to Zurich, Switzerland.
Arriving to Zurich after 10pm we hurried to our host’s home. We had a little trouble figuring out the bus ticket system but Switzerland proved itself to be full of helpful locals!
Here stayed with Jowita & Daniel with AIRBNB. They were exactly how everyone described them on the site’s reviews… super friendly and excellent hosts. They didnt mind our late arrival at all and offered us lots of information on local sites! Their flat was straight out of a Ikea magazine. My eyes were in love with their clean swiss design aesthetics. The apartment itself is on the top floor, including the panorama-view of the Alps and the Uetliberg. A nice terrace, two bedrooms with double bed, a big kitchen, bath with bathtub and wireless-Lan!