We woke up bright and early on our last morning in Paris. Suddenly, we felt like even though we had spent almost a week here, we had not experienced enough of what this beautiful city has to offer.
Our first stop for the morning was Centre Pompidou. With hubby’s love of modern art, I figured he would be like a kid in a candy store in this incredible museum dedicated to modern art. Centre Pompidou is the largest museum for modern art in Europe. The architecture of the building itself can only best be described as a building turned onside out. It is quite an unexpected sight.
The inside of the museum is an endless kaleidoscope of modern art. With over 100,000 pieces on display, with contributions from over 6567 artists, it is truly mind-boggling. And the works were display were not just restricted to paintings. There were sculptures and installations.
Even the signs for the bathroom facilities got the Centre Pompidou treatment.
We spent over 3 hours in that museum. I think hubby was quite reluctant to leave but I was quite happy to move on. An Impressionist lover like myself can only take Modern Art is small doses and this was a whopping big serve of the bizarre, geometric and abstract. I can’t say that I enjoyed my visit to this museum as much as I did Fondation Maeght in St-Paul-de-Vence, or even Espace Dali in Montmartre. I think those two smaller museums were very well curated and was able to serve Modern Art in smaller chunks that a non-Modern Art aficionado could enjoy.
Moving on, we made our way to Palais Garnier. This time we managed to get inside the beautiful opera house. To say that it’s beautiful is a gross understatement. Everywhere we looked, everything was covered in gilded gold. There were marble columns, friezes, statues, chandeliers. You can see why it is considered the most famous opera house in the world.
Surrounded by all this classic Baroque beauty and opulence, one can easily understand why the drama and mystery of this place inspired Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera.
The Grand Foyer, which was restored in 2004, is 18 metres high, 154 metres long and 13 metres wide. At each separate ends of the foyer is the Salon de la Lune and the Salon du Soleil. It is an amazing space, with wonderful details and sumptuous decorations.
The auditorium can seat up to 1979 and boasts a ceiling painted by Marc Chagall, depicting scenes from operas by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi, Berlioz, Rameau, Bizet, Adam, Ravel, Mussorgsky, Wagner, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Gluck and France’s own son Debussy. There are some who believe that Chagall’s work is not in harmony with the rest of the éspace, and I have to say that I am inclined to agree.
One of the box seats in the auditorium is open for public viewing. It is amazing to sit in one of the velvet chairs, and pretend that you were at opening night of the latest ballet (most operas are now staged at the Opéra Bastille). Hubby and I vowed that one day, we will have to come back for a ballet (we missed the opening night of the latest production by one day).
Moving on from all that grandeur and imposing beauty, we decided to head down to rue Royale to our favourite Ladurée store. Even on a Sunday, there was a queue to buy those delicious bites of macarons. Walking down rue Royale, we came to the doors of Église de la Madeleine.
Inspired by the Maison Carreé at Nîmes, this church has had a turbulent past. In its current form, it was built as a monument to commemorate ‘La Gloire de la Grande Armée’. After the fall of Napoléon, Louis XVIII decreed that it would be a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. It was finally consecrated in 1842.
We had walked past this church during our last visit, but did not have time to step in for a visit. Imagine our delight when we discovered that there was a service in progress. I managed to discreetly film part of it.
Unable to explore the rest of the church with the service in session, we decided to head back to the apartment. It was time to start packing for our trip home. We wandered down rue de Buci one last time. It was rather obvious to us that we had to visit our local oyster guy at L’Atlas for one last takeaway seafood dinner. He was lovely and friendly as usual. When we told him that it was our last night in the city, he placed 4 freshly shucked oysters in a box and said to us ‘un petit cadeau pour vous’. We thanked him for his kindness and vowed to be back on our next trip.
Soaking the sounds of the streets of Paris from our open windows, we fell asleep to that gentle lullaby one last time in our rented apartment.