|Last year the Opera House was closed for some reason but today I was in luck and able to get a ticket for the 11:30 tour in English with guide Martin whose English was very good. Designed by Garnier it was built in 14 years ats aproject of Napoleon the Third who died three years before its completion and by the time it opened Garnier, as a friend of Napoleon p, was out of favour and not invited to the opening but was able to purchase a ticket.
The magnificent entrance with grand staircase is in a mix of styles - baroque, neo classic, renaissance- quite eclectic but the overall impression with all the marble, gold and statues is of a grand setting for those who would come, not to see the performances, but to be seen.
The stage is sloped, one of the few such stages on which ballet is performed, giving an extra challenge to the dancers. The many boxes, once for the upper class from which to see and be seen, are no longer the most expensive seats for most have a very poor view of the stage.
Over the road to Layfayette Galleries, the enormous department store occupying two sites but the original has the glass dome with stained glass inserts. On the sixth floor is a self service restaurant and I chose to lunch here and was joined by a Frenchman who insisted on chatting and also singing to me. Over lunch I learned that he had run a restaurant , his son and family had moved to Israel, he was just out of hospital having had a scare with chest pains the previous night and farewelled me singing "You are my sunshine"
I did a little browsing along with many other tourists especially groups of Asians who were certainly frequenting the upmarket brands so much so that there was a queue to get into the Chanel area.
Strolled some more, found a Metro station and got to the Cite area. So crowded and since the high season is over can only think that Paris in peak season must be quite unpleasant. Such a contrast with Chartres yesterday..
Now back at the hotel resting my weary feet and planning for my move to Wales via the Eurostar in the morning. Have a taxi booked to get me to Gare du Nord.
This is probabky my last posting. I'll be home next Monday!