16 Jour – Opera Garnier & Cafe Universal

8 Jul

Our friends Kathy and Bob met with us before we traveled here to give us some “Paris tips”. She told us that the cafe to the right of the Opera Garnier is exquisite. Indeed it is! It was hard to get good pictures, but if you’re ever in Paris, definitely have a drink or lunch here. We had a light lunch before we visited the Opera. Delicious and the service was attentive and friendly. By the way, I want to say a word about the service in Paris. It was great! Every waiter was friendly and wanted us to be happy with our meals, etc. We did not find any of the typical stereotypes applied. Everyone was friendly and polite. We always made an effort to speak French. With our broken phrases and gesturing, it all worked well. I think they really appreciated our efforts. I always like when I can prove a stereotype wrong.

The Palais Garnier is one of my favorite buildings in Paris. A little history: It is the thirteenth theatre to house the Paris Opera since it was founded by Louis XIV in 1669. 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.

As you probably know, this is the Opera House of Victor Hugo’s Phantom of the Opera. As we walked through, I could see why it inspired the tale – mysterious, grand and beautiful. We took the tour and got to see the theater, complete with the ceiling painted by Chagall. I loved every minute. A definate favorite!

The Grand Foyer at the Opera

After we left the Opera, we walked over to Jardin du Tuilleries. In the summer they set up a little carnival for children. There is a huge ferris wheel, so of course we had to get on it! Wow, the views! My favorite is always seeing Sacre Coeur in the distance. So beautiful!

After dinner we walked over to Cafe Universal to hear some jazz. There was a duo playing. The pianist was wild. He was all over the place. Made it a little difficult for the violinist. He kept getting this confused look on his face, like he was thinking, “Where in the hell is he going with this?” They did, however, do a great rendition of My Funny Valentine – really beautiful. Yet another great day in this amazing city.

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