Well, it seems that I changed my mind since I wrote this post. I suppose that’s allowed on a vacation. I decided to wait and post that pre-write on the day that it actually happens. Anyway…..
Today was another fabulous day – with several worries being for naught. My concept last night was to leave the apartment around 9:30AM in order to arrive at the Paris Opera (Palais Garnier) by 10:15 when the box office opens and tickets for the English guided visit go on sale. I was a bit nervous because not only did I have to ride the metro (and ensure that my ticket worked) but I actually had to change trains. Now for those of you who live in major metropolitan areas – like I used to – this is no big deal. But since it has been since 1988 that I lived in New York City, and since I had to change trains in a foreign language, I was a bit anxious. But all fell into place perfectly. I was sitting on the steps of the Opera at 9:50.
At 10:15 I was able to secure my ticket for the tour that would begin at 11:30. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, so I decided to walk and check the area. I walked in several directions and actually happened upon Place de la Concorde – the original location for the storming of the Bastille (if memory serves me correctly). Now there is a tall statue to commemorate the event – and the entire square is surrounded by very upscale shops. I thought I was on 5th Avenue in New York for a moment.
The tour of the opera house was delightful and while we were not allowed to visit backstage or the “lake” underneath the stage (this has been prohibited since 9-11), we were able to go in the theater, sit in the front row seats, and observe the opulence that ruled the day. We discovered that the Emperor’s Box is actually the worst seat in the house – but he did not want the seat to see the production; he wanted the seat to be seen. We viewed the grand staircase – where even the spectators of the opera could be “on stage” and we were also able to see the Grand Foyer – where the abonnees – male season ticket holders – could go to meet the ballerinas between acts. It was a fantastic tour.
Afterwards I decided to walk to the Louvre, which is at the end of the Rue de l’Opera that you see here. Between the morning walk, the walk to the Louvre, and then walking the entire second floor of the Louvre — I managed to log 15,300 steps. I don’t mind telling you that I am exhausted! Even though the Louvre is open late on Wednesdays, I left around 5:30 for fear that I would not be able to get out of bed tomorrow. Obviously I cannot travel at the age of 51 the same way I could travel at the age of 35. I did manage to buy a museum pass (en francais) which means that I can visit as many museums as I want – as many times as I want – over the next 4 days. I will be sure to return the Louvre some day — but tomorrow I have reserved for the Musee d’Orsay.
The last success story of the day was that I was able to find the Cafe Nemours (just around the corner from the Louvre) and order my lunch in French. This was a huge deal for me because I just can’t stand eating alone in a public place. But you know what? Not a single person cared — and I was thrilled! Now it probably helped that the menu was in French as well as English – but I pretty much understood without using the subtitles. I ordered une Salade Comedienne (greens – tuna – beans – egg – tomato in a light vinaigrette), un verre de bourgogne – et un verre de l’eau. It was refreshing and delicious and very Parisian. I loved it!