Each of us approaches trip planning in a different way. Some need the security of detailed plans; others prefer a more devil-may-care approach, allowing moments to unfold and surprises to occur. Regular readers know, of course, that I fall into the latter group!
This Top 4 Moments in Paris provides for some magnificent experiences, while keeping your agenda open for that spontaneous glass of wine in the Marais or ducking into that little Librarie in search of old etchings or books. Not in any particular order, I recommend a mix of culture, couture and fantastic flea market shopping.
First, I would hasten to purchase tickets on line for a performance at the Opéra Garnier, one of the most elegant venues in all of Paris. You can easily purchase tickets on line, and you will enjoy the luxury and luminosity of the performing arts in the refined setting of Opéra Garnier. The location is central to everything – near Galeries Lafayette – so you can find an ideal spot for a little aprés Opera drink or late dinner.
Also on a sophisticated but so approachable note, plan to visit the Jacquemart-Andre Museum. One of Paris’ ‘beauty marks’, the museum welcomes you home to the refined world of the former owners. If possible, try to go for the Saturday or Sunday brunch – quite an elegant affair held from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in The Café Jacquemart-André. You also have the option of late-night openings during certain seasons, but be sure to check the museum website for specific nights and times.
Remember now that I am just offering you a few specific recommendations, but I fully expect you to wander the city. Be sure to enjoy quiet walks along the Seine and duck into a fabulous Brasserie for an unparalleled chocolat chaud.
One of our favorite streets for reeling in the grandeur of Paris is the fashion world of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Shall we drop a few names? Hermès, Lanvin, Givenchy, Dior …. Some of the world’s most exclusive designers are set in sparkling shops amid five-star hotels.
We stopped for a carafe of wine on the street overlooking Estée Lauder – a perfect spot for watching distinctly upscale shoppers sating their appetites for finery. You will be just around the corner from Place Concorde and the Palais de l’Élysée – official home to the French president – so you won’t lack sightseeing opportunities. Our most notable experience was stopping at a sidewalk cafe and looking up to see the handsome, fully-outfitted French Republican Guard marching down the street – quite a sight!
Now, we shall explore one of the most famous of all flea markets in Paris – Les Puces (The Fleas), more formally known as Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. Dress comfortably, as you will literally comb through acres of treasures in the world’s largest antique market. Naturally, such adventurous shopping will stimulate your appetite; so stop in at one of the flea market cafes for a breather and an excellent tureen of soup (that happened to be our lucky find on a very chilly day!) The market’s best hours are on Saturday and Sunday from 9 or 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Be prepared, plan a bit but not too much, and look forward to perhaps the most memorable Paris visit of your life!
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On the UNESCO World Heritage and acknowledged to be the best preserved theatre in Europe, the Théâtre Antique & Musée d’Orange is a jewel in the heart of the Rhône Valley. The Roman Theatre of Orange is unquestionably one of the finest remnants of Ancient Rome and the Roman Empire in all of France and one where you can enjoy enchanting performances. But first a bit of history.
Profiling the background of a place that has been around since 36 BC requires pick-and-choose fact paring and a PhD in history, but I’ll do my best! A few years after Julius Caesar conquered all of Gaul, veterans of his 2nd Gallic legion founded Orange.
In the 1st century AD, the Theatre of Orange was constructed under the reign of Emperor Augustus. The fact that such buildings still remain throughout France is a testament to Roman architectural and building expertise. The Romans hollowed out an existing hillside to build the theatre terraces against Saint-Eutrope hill.
- The traditional theatre design included tiered seats, an orchestra, stage and stage wall. Seating for theatre performances was in strict accordance with rank and status, with VIPs in civic and military life closest to the stage, and persona non grata at the back.
Theatre show days literally were just that – all day presentations of mimes, poetry readings, comedies and pantomimes acting out tragic, epic and farcical stories. Theatre performances evolved to the spectacular, with increasingly bloody scenes.
And thus came the downfall for all such theatres. With the advent of Christianity in the 4th century, Emperor Constantine and Theodosius converted to Christianity and made it the official religion. Rapidly, entertainment and pagan worship were banned, temples demolished and theatres closed. Through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the theatre was pillaged, turned into an outpost and even used as a prison.
It did not return to its original purpose until 1825, when the inspector of Monuments Historiques initiated a mammoth renovation program. From 1869, Roman Festivals attracted more than 10,000 spectators to the shows, which later would become known as “Chorégies” hosting one celebrity after another. Sarah Bernhardt was said to have given one of her finest performances there in 1903. In 1971 the “Nouvelles Chorégies” introduced the opera era with the world’s greatest opera singers performing on the famous stage with the fabulous acoustics.
Today, thousands of visitors from throughout the world enjoy performances in the theatre. day!
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