6 AM: I awake to snarls of thunder and rainswept trees battering my windows.
9 AM: Luckily, the rain has subsided as Dad and I navigate the metro to Montparnasse. We plan to catch a train to the Loire Valley. But the storm knocked debris onto the tracks, and all the trains are running hours behind schedule. We sadly cancel the trip.
Noon: We regroup and head out to seek adventure!
3 PM: Touring the Palais Garnier – the Paris Opera House. It was comissioned by Napoleon III, but he died before its completion in 1875. Though no royalty ever lived there, it’s earned the title of “Palace” because of its sheer beauty. This might be my favorite historical site so far.
The interior uses 33 different types of marble. Most are Italian, but they come from all over the world – Swedish green, Algerian pale yellow, Scottish red…
Architect Charles Garnier incorporated lyres in all the decor, to remind viewers that this was a temple of music.
In the early 1900s, the wealthy bought year-long subscriptions and came every day to see and be seen from these box seats, where they could chat, observe fashions, and even close the curtains while the show went on.
During 90-minute intermissions, subscribers mingled in restaurants and ornate hallways. This nook is dedicated to the moon.
After the original became damaged, Marc Chagall was commissioned to paint a new ceiling. The bright colors and soft lines are a joyful contrast to the ornate architecture, and each image honors a different composer.
The theater houses a national opera library full of books and retired set designs. This one is Bacchus (1909).
150 full-time costumers create the wigs, outfits, shoes, jewelry, and everything worn by performers here. An exhibit contains costumes, photos, and video from the history of ballet at the Palais Garnier.
The Phantom of the Opera fell in love with Christine in this box!
6 PM: Gawking at cheap souvenirs and highly expensive goods sold side-by-side along the river.
9 PM: Feasting at Sardegna a Tavola, where the menu is either in French or, worse, French spellings of Italian words. I know many food words in both languages, but the descriptions are so extensive that I give up. We ask the jovial owner to bring us vegetables and a couple of pastas.
Best. Choice. Ever.
First we get a wooden board with marinated vegetables nestled in its hollows. There are zucchini, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, eggplant, green beans, artichokes, peas, lima beans, and a few I don’t recognize. Everything tastes fresh and piquant from basking in vinegar, herbs, and fine olive oil.
Next, tender spaghetti brims with mussels, clams, and three huge langoustines, redolent with garlic and parsley. A tangle of handmade fettuccine rests beneath tomato-rich goat ragu. There’s a sweetness to the sauce that pairs well with a sprinkle of grated pecorino.
We finish with house-made gelato. The owner suggests “a mix” of flavors and brings me a coupe with every flavor piled together as the French seem so fond of doing. Sweet fig and nougat are light and summery, with sorbet-like coffee on top, and a base of dark, creamy chocolate beneath.
12 AM: Posting on this here blog.