Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Château de Versailles Part I

Château de Versailles - more commonly known as simply Versailles - was originally little more than a seignury with a hunting lodge that was eventually transformed by Le Roi Soleil Louis XIV into one of the biggest palaces in the world. It became the center of the French court and government from May 1682, when the Sun King moved the seat of power from Paris in order keep his potential enemies closer, until October 1789 when Marie-Antoinette et sa famille were forced by the French people to return to Paris and to their ultimate fates. 

Versailles itself is a charming suburb 20 km southwest of Paris, and to get to Château Versailles one can take a 30-minute train ride from Paris, with a further 800 km walk to the Palace proper.

King Louis XIV, namesake of tacky faux-French furniture,
greets intruders visitors at the Place d'Armes forecourt.

"To all the glories of France."

Royal receptionist #1

Royal receptionist #2

The Royal Stables. Since the horses had better accommodations 
than the peasants, the revolution was all but assured.

The Golden Gates.

Barbarians at the gate.

Rooftop statues look down upon the peasantry tourists.

Statues avert their gaze from the madding crowd below.

The sun emblem in the middle of a clock - clever play on a sundial.

"Madame! Madame! The peasants are revolting!"

"Mais oui! They most certainly are."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We Love Opéra House!

As mentioned in a previous post, my hotel was conveniently located quite near the Opéra Garnier aka Opéra de Paris. Inaugurated in 1875, it was known as the Académie Nationale de Musique - Théâtre de l'Opéra, until 1978, when it was renamed Théâtre National de l'Opéra de Paris.

A rose by any other name and go figure.

Anyhow, although it was supplanted by the Opéra de Bastille in 1989 and renamed the Palais Garnier (after Charles Garnier, the architect who designed it), the Paris Opéra House remains a grande dame of the cultural scene, and now concentrates on dance performances.

Unfortunately, July marked the start of the off-season, so there were no performances for me to catch.

Maybe next time.

In the meantime, enjoy the pics of this grandiose example of NeoClassic opulence.

In the daylight, the imposing Opéra House is truly a sight to behold.

At night, even more so.

Detail of one of the two gilded statues looking down from on high.
There are two groups of these gilded statues on either end 
of the building's rooftop, representing Harmony and Poetry.

This must be Poetry. I think. Waving goodbye to Prose, perhaps.

Oh, bonjour. Apollo, c'est-toi?

There he is again, flanked by Poetry and Music - the lucky chiennes.

One of the multi-figure groups in front. This one is "The Dance," which
was supposedly - and strangely un-French - criticized for "indecency."

The less-scandalous - but more violent - multi-figure group "Lyrical Drama."

Oh, sure, a woman crushing a man 
underfoot gets a free pass...

...but a gaylord with a bit of a wang frolicking 
with his fag hags gets the stink-eye.

This is the inoffensive "Instrumental Music"...

...and last but not the least, 
the no less-boring "Harmony."

Fly high, bronze eagle, fly high.

Walking home from the Galeries Lafayette one Sunday,
I chanced upon assorted couples dancing 
the tango in front of the Opéra House.

It was pretty cool, considering that the Opéra House
now serves primarily as a venue for dance performances.
It was also a reminder for me to learn the tango.

Oh, and interesting bit of trivia, from Wiki:

"During 1896, the falling of one of the counterweights for the grand chandelier resulted in the death of one person. This incident, as well as the underground lake, cellars, along with the other elements of the Opera House, even the building itself, were the inspirations of Gaston Leroux for his classic 1910 gothic novel The Phantom of the Opera"


Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The Paris Métro stinks.

Of dog piss and mold, and other olfactory offenses.

Yet, it is so utterly picturesque and - aside from walking - still the cheapest way to navigate the city.

Mon station : Opéra.

A view from street level.

Juxtaposition I

There's Waldo.

Still Life I






Les Golden Girls.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Oh, Snaps!

Just a few random snaps of Paris.

My hotel.

Conveniently located near the majestic Opera House.

An up-close look.

One of the many massive buildings around 
the Boulevard Haussmann area.

The gloom and the winged statues 
reminded me of "Wings of Desire."

Lonely Boulevard

One of the many beautiful corner buildings 
dotting the arrondissements.

Parisian cafe.

A rotunda somewhere near the Moulin Rouge.

Gare De L'Est. One of Paris' major rail stations, 
where you can board the Eurail to other European cities.