Sunday, 6 July 2014

Paris; The last few days

Day 9, Saturday July 5
First a revisit to the Cluny Museum, a place we felt we had slighted in a previous trip. It really is a lovely place to immerse yourself in medieval art. I love the faces of the old crucifixes and some of the faces on the statues look either very modern or almost doll like, depending on the country of origin. Seeing stained glass close up is also something of a revelation as there is so much detail. The old chapel and its intricate vaulting is a beautiful place. The lady and the Unicorn Tapestries are as beautiful and enigmatic as ever with the tiny details of animals on the millefiore background charming. We sat and looked for some time.

c christ face
Face of Christ
c virgin face
A very modern looking saint
c saint
Doll like saint
C chapel vaulting
Chapel vaulting
c annunciation
c annunciation 2
c lady
c tapestry
The sense of Taste
c detail tapestry
Today I met up with a school friend I hadn’t seen for 49 years, which dates me pretty exactly. She now lives in America so it was delightful to make contact, meet her husband and exchange news of children, travels and old school friends That consumed a nice part of the day over an agreeable lunch, following which we headed for Les Halles shopping centre looking for souvenirs and gifts for the family. This might be a large centre but it appears to be under permanent reconstruction, is almost impossible to navigate for a stranger and was not appealing in any way. We did manage to find a few gifts but I wouldn’t be including it in your “must sees” in Paris, nor even in your outlet shopping sprees. I was glad to leave.
Dinner was in a recommended restaurant, La Coulisses Vintage. We were sat up the back and treated to a rather patronizing explanation of the menu, which we could read quite well. I ordered the duck cooked two ways, magret and confit leg. The duck in both guises was cool to cold, the skin not crispy in either and I had to peel it off both the leg and breast in a rather unpleasant, flaccid pile. The plate was cold also and the overall food temperature quite detracted from the meal, which had good flavour. I was tempted to return the dish but didn't know what they could do to reheat, short of a microwave burst, so decided against it. Ho-hum!
Day 10, Sunday July 6
Wet, cold and raining. Our last day and some necessary chores first, like washing and some packing then a visit to the Opera Garnier. I had other plans too, but the wet weather and sore foot stopped them.
But the Opera, oh my! We had seen the opera house in Budapest and it was absolutely beautiful, but this outshone in every department. Before this trip I had never really considered anything but the auditorium as “opera”, but the other rooms are, if anything, more beautiful, glamorous and rich. In fact, they apologized that the auditorium would be almost dark and little to see, but the foyers, staircases, reception rooms, salons, and supper rooms were individually and collectively gorgeous.

0 grand staircase
Grand staircase

0 foyer des glaces
Chandelier, Salon des Glaces
0 ceiling decoration
0 foyer soleil
Ceiling in the foyer de Soleil
o salon de soleil
Multiple reflections in the Foyer de Soleil
0 Garnier as Apollo
Garnier’s face as Apollo

We spent some time admiring the rooms, the tiny dioramas of stage sets in the museum part, some costumes displayed in cases and attempting to see and photograph the dimmed auditorium. I have been blessing the ability of my little Panasonic to take photos in very dim light but I wasn’t very successful here, even at 3200ISO.

0 set design
Diorama for stage set
0 dome
Dome in auditorium, chandelier not illuminated

0 auditorium deco
Detail of auditorium
0 auditorium

Much gold and gilding of course, and the grand salon modelled on the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. I kept taking photos and panoramas of it, finding I can play the panoramas back as a moving picture on the camera (not, alas, on my computer as far as I know). Stunning!

0 foyer panorama
o grand foyer
Because it was pouring rain we dropped into the nearby CafĂ© la Paix for a last Parisian lunch. My salad disappointed greatly, being rather soggy in the ingredients where it had promised crispness. The lettuce and parmesan were OK but I wasn’t tempted to stay for dessert.
On to the Louvre because I wanted to photograph the pyramid again, but the rain and crowds were against anything artistic and the foot was murder. So the last part of the last day was a bit of a let down and my Vedettes Pont Neuf trip just wasn’t going to happen.
0 pyramid

Louvre Pyramid
0 paris in the rain
Paris in the rain

A final meal at Villa Abbesses in Montmartre, the tasting plate of salmon, which was good, but maybe not as good as I remembered. I have had a lot of raw fish this trip, not something I typically associate with France.
We gave our friendly local beggar our coins and left over metro tickets. Tomorrow begins with a G7 taxi to the airport, thence to Zurich, then Los Angeles then Portland. 25 hours door to door.
Next stop: Family and Portland

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