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Monday, August 2, 2010

The Opera Garnier, and a stroll thru the Marais

Today I didn't try to visit the Decoratif Arts Museum, because it's closed on Monday! I decided to start off the day at the Opera Garnier. It used to be just the Opera, until Mitterand had the new Opera built in the 70's, to be more of a populist venue. So now the beautifully garish building is relogated to 2nd class status, I guess. I had been there twice in the past, once when I lived here in 1969, once for a self guided tour a few years ago. I don't actually remember if I attended a performance there originally, all I really remember is the spectacular Chagall ceiling. My guidebook says he did it in 1965, so it was really brand new then. It's so at odds with the rest of the place. This time I took the guided tour; for 3 1/2 more euros, it's well worth it. It's an hour an a half long. My plan had been to take the English language tour, but I somehow wound up with the wrong group and went with the French tour: and I'm glad I did. I could understand most everything, even most of his jokes, I think. At least there didn't seem to be times when other people laughed and I didn't!

The Opera is where the Phantom of the Opera takes place. The guide asked us how many people thought there was really a subterranean lake: (Lac, ou pas de lac?) and since my guidebook says that there is, I voted yes, with about half the group: But the guide says there isn't.

The place really is like a museum, or a piece of theatre, in itself. I am actually glad to have gone on the tour rather than to a performance, because I think I would not have appreciated the place itself as much otherwise. The guide was full of interesting stories. He said, for instance, that the original ceiling mural, dirtied by the soot of the original gas lights , was still there, behind the Chagall.

Spent the afternoon in the Marais, the still partly Jewish, now trendy and partly gay neighborhood. It's a funny mix, chic stores,expensive bagels, Orthodox Jews, teenage North African Jews, gay couples, tourists. The little area called Village St. Paul,with some interesting shops, including a place I bought a straw necklace and earrings last year, was largely closed up for the August holiday. I couldn't locate the shop and wondered if she was still even there.

But I did locate the large modern space where I'd stumbled upon a wonderful art exhibit in 2004, and bought a small and surprisingly inexpensive piece; which now hangs in our living room: (and later received a thank you note from the artist.)I had tried to find the place last year and could't, so it made me very happy to rediscover it, even though there was nothing going on there now: There were posters for an exhibit by "artists of the 4th" (arrondissment) beginning on August 6th, the day after I leave. Merde!

Well, enough said pour l'instant. Now it's qfter 11pm, and I have to decide whether to go out for a stroll, or just curl up with a good Parisian murder mystery and my view of the Eiffel Tower. Can't go wrong!

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