Details of the four panels of the Grand Staircase's ceiling
With the brief takeover of Paris by the Paris Commune, a self-styled socialist group that didn’t recognized the French government, 2 months of general chaos and mayhem ended in senseless destruction in what became known as "The Bloody Week" beginning 21 May 1871. The fighting between the Commune and the French Army, trying to take Paris back, came to a head when the Commune burned down, first the Tuileries Palace next to the Louvre and then the Hôtel De Ville, Paris’s city hall. They killed the archbishop of Paris and it is estimated that up to 10,000 people were killed in Paris during that time.
The new government of the Third French Republic was hesitant to provide funds for the completion of the opera house, no one wanted to touch anything associated with the Second Empire, but when the Salle Le Peletier, Paris’s old opera house, on Rue le Peletier burned down on 28 October 1873 the story of the Palais Garnier came full circle. The very same Salle Le Peletier, 15 years earlier, was the scene of the assassination attempt on Napoleon III’s life, and it led to the decision to build the Palais Garnier. Paris was now without an opera house. The government soon after provided funding and immediately requested Charles Garnier to complete the building.
The magnificent Grand Foyer ceiling.
While enjoying a cigarette on the balcony musicians gathered and entertained the many folks who sat on the steps of the grand theatre.
The exterior of the Palais Garnier is just as richly decorated as inside
A solitary early morning walk through the near empty rues of Saint-Germain and the 6th arrondissement, the breathtaking Impressionists on the 5th floor of the D’Orsay, seeing the Louvre at night, viewing Paris from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, a relaxing Sunday afternoon in the Jardin Luxembourg, discovering Saint-Étienne-du-Mont behind the Panthéon and finally the Palais Garnier were the highlights, which offset the average food we had in Paris.
The Gothic masterpiece and richly statued Notre-Dame de Chartres, the historic Palace of Fontainebleau and staying in the 18th century Chateau D’Esclimont provoked my senses to create memorable memories.
After our first visit to France I wrote this in a previous post:
“ If I had to summarize France into a single point of remembrance then it is the sheer audacity, and I use this word with great respect, of the French people, especially in Paris, to build such extravagantly beautiful and detailed decorated buildings. The monstrous and imposing but beautiful Arc de Triomphe or the richly gilded and artistically decorated Opera House is classic examples of this love of the French for all things beautiful and attractive.”I said it then and it is still true.
On the square in front of the Palais Garnier it is very difficult to get an alfresco table at the Café de la Paix at 6 in the evening. I was determined to spend some time on our last night in Paris doing some people watching at this great crossroads of Paris by copying some French, who doesn't always seem to believe in standing in lines. I jumped the line, well not really a line, more a case of bundling up and I simply reacted faster than the others there waiting and walked straight to a table being vacated, not waiting for it to be cleared and clean, in a quiet alcove and secured it for us. If there were any disgruntled murmurs I didn't hear any. Tea for M and for me, my favorite beer Kronenbourg 1664. And for the next hour or so...