Our last day in Paris is upon us!! 😭😭 Time has flown the fuck by, but like that Winnie the Pooh quote, how lucky I am to have something to miss once it’s gone, right? On this day my brother actually had a pretty bad stomach bug of some sort, so my dad stayed home with him while my mom and I went out. (It worked out well, because my dad also had a conference call for work that day.) Our planned destinations were the Palais Garnier and the Galeries de Lafayette, which were both lessons in how majestic and grand and expensive-looking places could be, and then we also stopped in some random stores to see what a French supermarket was like. (Spoiler: very nice. Very, very nice. They have candles shaped like purple chickens!!)
Our first look at the Palais Garnier as we exited the metro station and turned around was a definite shit, WOW moment. This is an opera house built in the era of Napoleon III and commissioned by him, if I remember correctly. It’s so – how do the kids say these days – extra.
Charles Garnier was the architect, hence the name – Palais Garnier. To be real, my head is constantly battling now between Garnier the skincare brand and this dude. Whenever the name ‘Garnier’ comes up, I have a weird amalgamation of the two pop up in my mind. It’s a little disconcerting. Anyway, that’s a bust of him in front of the entrance – I don’t know if he put it there himself or if it was placed there much later, but I wouldn’t rule the first option out completely. He was pretty full of himself as far as I can tell, lol.
The trusty ol’ Lonely Planet book suggested getting an audio guide, so I got one, and that was honestly such a good decision. I think this was actually the best audio guide I’ve ever experienced, because this one led you around on your own tour. Like, it would say “Starting from the foot of the stairs, continue up and then turn right for the next step of this tour.” and then you’d go up and turn right and the next segment of your own personal tour would begin! I was a big fan.
The girl in that little crevice/pulpit/thing is a sculpture of the Oracle of Delphi, like from Greek mythology. The story goes that Garnier saw it in a random workshop of a sculptor and was immediately like, “I have to have it!”, much like myself when I see cat memorabilia.
This salamander was put in to cover up what they thought was an ugly gas pipe!
This opera house is actually the opera house that the Phantom of the Opera story came from, and there’s a little box labeled “the Phantom’s box”. I have no idea what the Phantom of the Opera is about, but my mom was excited, so there’s that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In building this, Garnier wanted the experience of going to the opera to be a Big Fuckin’ Deal, so he designed the staircases and the seating boxes so that people could watch them, too. You can totally imagine some old fancy rich lady and her sugar baby boyfriend going up those steps, right? With the lady wearing some velvet gown that trails seven feet behind her? Anyway, that idea of everything being a part of the art – even the act of going to see the art itself – is always so interesting to me.
This was titled “the ballet room”, and I think it’s because the Opera Ballet of Paris used to rehearse here..? Something to do with them, anyway. There were only a few people here, including me, and this couple started dancing and I was straight up ugly crying with happiness because LOVE EXISTS!! LOVE IS RL!!!
The sun room, I think! There was a sun and a star themed room, and I was just heart eyes at them both. Well, I was heart eyes at everything in this whole opera house, but especially these two. Something about the sun/moon thing just gets to me, u kno?
This room!! Holy crap!!! Literally the coup de grâce to my poor fragile heart. This would be a blasphemous thing to say to pre-France-visiting Maxine, but as post-France-visiting Maxine I’m gonna say it – this place was better than Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors. THERE I SAID IT. It was so opulent and over the top and completely unapologetic about it, that kind of no holds barred ‘I’m gonna bowl you over with awe’ feeling. The Hall of Mirrors is probably overhyped in my mind, and also, of course, time probably hasn’t been the kindest to that room.
The view from the balcony outside that huuuuuge hall!
I spent so long staring at this patch on the ground. The marble!! That reddish pinky marble paired with the mint green and the darker emerald green was so good.
The moon/star room! See how there are bats on the little thing above the hanging chandelier? And all the stars? And the silver tones instead of gold? Ahhhhh it’s all so good and the design is so thought out and I’m just, I’m just a sucker for art, y’all. My first and forever love, tbh.
This room was super lackluster compared to the other rooms haha, but it was a gallery meant for educational purposes. The round disk is the original ceiling of the opera, because now it’s been painted over into a more ~modern art style.
And now, our time in the opera house is almost over… But not yet! Because we still have the gift shop!! Dude, I don’t even know if I love gift shops so much because I just love shopping so much, period, or if I love gift shops for the reason that I think I love them – that is, because they’re the best curated collection of knick knacks in a confined space. Lemme show you some things I saw!
An Odette/Odile t-shirt pair, like from Swan Lake! I have no idea why they’re wearing sunglasses or boxing gloves, though. Like, are they gonna punch each other out for the Prince’s heart?? Is this a new avant-garde ballet where everyone’s in tutus but also boxing and wrestling each other??? Is Mila Kunis gonna go down on Natalie Portman and kill my ovaries AGAIN???? These are serious questions I have.
Lamps!? Why?! Who would buy this for their house!? I have no idea what the answer to that question is, but I do know that I want to know that sort of person and regularly have tea with them. OK, they’d probably be the kind of person who would delight in brunch, so brunch. Brunch with them.
?! is all I have to say about this one. Like, 1) Who designed this? 2) Who picked this out for sale in a Paris opera house? 3) Who has been buying this? Maybe also, 4) Can I meet all 3 of these people?
I mean, would it really be a round-up of things I spotted that I wanted to buy but didn’t buy if there wasn’t a cat-related item in there? This lil lady looks just like my Lunaboo!! It’s really rare that I find cat items that look like my cats, because none of them have their colorings. It’s always a black cat or a ginger cat, never a brown tabby or a grey lady with a white belly and boots. So this was really exciting to me.
And now, we’re onto the Galeries de Lafayette! This shopping centre was so huge it sprawled out across THREE different stores, each with like five floors. My mom and I were looking for a gift for her friend, and we walked in a store and asked in broken French where we could find bedding – the salesperson told us to exit and walk across the street to the building dedicated to home goods. Like, dude. Literally killin’ the game.
This was the domed roof of the main flagship store, but more of that later, because they had this cool art installation with flags hanging there. (Well, I thought it was cool; my mom thought it was weird and modern art and covered up the “true artistry” of the place.)
How morbid! How very 13-year-old Maxine wanting desperately to be the Zooey Deschanel to someone’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt (or, well, Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself) listening to The Smiths in an elevator!
Can you IMAGINE the type of person who comes here to buy sugar cubes shaped like angels? Or roses? Or, god help us all, EMOJIS?!
Following that – can you imagine the type of person who would come here to buy Minion easter egg cups?! I’ll answer that for you. You don’t need to imagine this hypothetical nonexistent person, because I am that person. Me. I am the person who gawked at this display in delight, because I love Minions with all my heart.
And now, we leave, taking the same metro from in front of the Palais Garnier that we took to get here, and we’re going to…
…to watch Jenn Im videos while eating a baguette. Just an average day for me, really, except that I’m doing it in Paris. OK, we’re basically done with the meat of my Paris blogging, but I have a couple more tidbits that I wanted to share with you.
Candles shaped like PURPLE CHICKENS!!!!!! I stared at these for the longest time wondering what on earth they were, and I finally settled on paperweights or just Easter decor. And then I squinted and noticed the candle wick.
My haul of shit I’m bringing back from Paris – macarons, Paris PJ pants, a pocket map of Paris that you color in yourself, coloring pencils to do said coloring, 2 nail polishes (the pink one I have since discovered is faulty, because somehow the lid is screwed on wrong and I can’t get it out), sunscreen (French women are always said to have perfect skin! So! I can’t go wrong with this, right?!), macarons, A WAX SEAL (!!!), star hoop earrings, and a washcloth.
I also made a little travel diary in my notebook, with notes of what we did as well as ticket stubs and the like, so here’s a page of that. The whole thing is posted on my Tumblr if you’re interested in seeing those pages!
Paris, we are DONE. It has been a blast, and I’m already mentally eating ramen for the next seven years of my life to prepare for my next trip here. No ifs or maybes here; I am coming back for you.