Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Paris - off the beaten path

I've been to the city of light three times before. And it holds a special place in my heart. My parents surprised me with a weekendtrip to this city to celebrate finishing elementary school.
We did all the things you should do as a tourist then, Eiffel tower, montmartre, Notre Dame, Tour montparnasse, Champs Elysee...And I did many of these again on my following trips because I went with Paris-first-timers. So, they got to see the landmarks. Even though every experience was different, I was glad they were not a must-do on this trip. 

This time I went with a friend who also had seen the high-lights already. So, we had fun stroling the streets (in the rain, regularly). Looking back at it now, it was quite a foodie-trip, I'll share some about that in a later post (due to photo sorting). But we did catch a few other known landmarks, I'd like to share some of them with you.

1. Le Palais Garnier (Opera National de Paris)

I love ballet. I danced for about 8 years and it stays with you. It really does. So, I love to visit theaters for that reason. On my very first trip to Paris, we passed this theatre by bus, but I'd never took a trip inside. This time we did pay a visit to the masterly Palais Garnier.  This jewel in Paris is huge, and overwelming in so many was. So much gold and rich red, mirrors, bling and marmer. The highlight of the visit is the auditorium, the place where everything after months or rehearsing, prepairing and practising comes together for an artist.
We walked around, snapping pictures and imagine big crowds come here to have a wonderful theater night. We didn't even think about getting a ticket (prices were way over budget for us). I loved seeing costumes and miniature decors for different plays. There is so much artistry and time consuming hand work in these pieces.
The shop at the end is a good place to pick up dvds of plays, operas and ballets and classical cds, but the giftshop was a little over-priced.

On a side note, I bet I had a guardian angel on my shoulder on this visit. My most thankful moment of the weekend (probably this year, even) was picking up my mobile phone from the ticketboot that I thought for a moment was lost or even robbed (thanks to an awkward moment at the giftshop).

Practical information:
Entree is at the corner of rue Scribe and rue Auber, Paris 9ème
Métro: Opéra (lines 3, 7, 8)
RER: line A, station Auber
Bus : lines 20, 21, 22, 27, 29, 42, 52, 53, 66, 6 8, 81, 95

Opening times: September - mid-July : 10:00 am and 5:00 pm (last admissions 4:30 pm), mid-July - September 10:00 am and 6:00 pm (last admissions 5:30 pm).

Tickets: €10, reduced €6, there are also guided tours available. Information is on the website.

2. Pont des arts

It was fun stroling over this bridge, known for all the love-locks. People watching. With our visit, a promotion team of Georgio Armani had taken over the bridge, handing out samples of the new Armani fregance Sí. Just looking at all of those locks, I couldn't help but wonder at times. Like, are all those couples still together? And all those friendships still going strong? Where are all those people from? How did the met? I guess you could come here sit down and wonder or if you've got the guts go and ask and collect stories.

Practical information:
Pont Des Arts
Metro: Pont Neuf (line 7), or Louvre-Rivoli (line 1)

3. Musée D'Orsay

I did run through the famous Musee du Louvre on one of my earlier trips. Just before closing time, me and my family decided we had to have a glance at the most visited painting in the museum, the Mona Lisa. And just that, so I followed my parents and cought glimpses of the long halls filled with master paintings and sculptures. Mona Lisa was surrounded by a last moment crowd, at least half a meter off, behind a thick pice of glace and very tiny. But we saw it. Well, needless to say the Louvre is on my list for a proper visit, but not this trip. This time, I favored Musée D'Orsay. I had never visited before but heard it was a great museum on impressionism. And it's one of my favorite times in art history.
The museum is a great, although a bit of a noisy place. Lots of space to sit and give your tired feet a rest while soaking in art from Master painters and sculptors. I was touched by two particular works. The Little dancer by Degas. I know about this sculpture a long time (it was degas who combined my two loves of dance and painting). Seeing the thing and being able to walk around was fun. But it was the face of the girl that struck me. To me she looked so unhappy and locked up (in this case in a glass showcase...).
The other piece was by Monet. I know he is a master. But his painting Curch of Vernon in the fog touched me in a way I didn't know art could touch someone. The soft almost transluscent colours and the gentle brush strokes, it is tenderness on canvas.

I loved the little corned they had dedicaded to Le Palais Garnier, because we paid a visit there in the morning. At the museum they have an intersection of the building in which I could see what was behind that huge print of red curtain. And walk on top of a miniature part of Paris.

Practical Information
1, rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris.

Metro: Solférino (line 12)
RER: line C, to Musée d'Orsay
Bus: 24, 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 94
Opening times: 9.30am to 6pm, 9.30am to 9.45pm on Thursdays
Closed on mondays, galleries start closing 5:30pm

Tickets: normal price (museum + exhibition): €12
But there are reduction rates and free entries (every first, Sunday of the month, under 18, members of the EU from 18-25). Check on the website for actual prices and information.

4. La Défense

We spent some time in the largest businessdistrict of Europe, La Défense. It's the part of Paris with all the huge towers you see from many viewpoints in Paris.We'd heard there's a bit of an open-air-museum and good shopping. But it was rainy, cloudy and quite crowded in the shopping center(s). So we stayed at the Grande Arch people watching and enjoying the view from the stairs of the Grande Arche over the Avenue des Champs Élysée.

Practical information:
Metro: La Défense (line 1)
RER: A to La Défense

The viewing deck on top of the arch are closed down apparently.

5. Montmartre
We enjoyed a view over Paris from the Montmartre. It's one of those places where it's always lively. We enjoyed a showcase of streetartist Iya Traore. Just keep your eyes on your bags and buying (fake) bags, sunglasses and other stuff from plaids on the ground, might not be such a good idea. 

Practical information
Metro: Anvers (line2), or Abbesses (line2)

If you got any tips for a travel to Paris, please leave them in the comments below, so I can catch them on another trip.

See you later this week with a short report on foodie places to go in Paris!

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