Opéra national de Paris & Montemarte


Here is the magnificent Opéra national de Paris (Palais Garnier), designed by Charles Garnier.  It was the setting for Phantom of the Opera, which has added significantly to its tourism value.

This box for the Phantom was added about five years ago because tourists kept asking where it was.

This box for the Phantom was added about five years ago because tourists kept asking where it was.



We went on a paid tour (around 90 min.) and it was well worth it — for the history of the Opéra as well as Pairs. Here are a few interesting things:

  • It was built by Napoleon III after someone tried to assassinate him in front of the old, temporary opera house. He decided that the best way to avoid being killed on the way to the theater in the future was to build a brand new one, complete with his own private, more secure entrance.
  • The Opéra, with its resplendent glamor and opulence, was the place to see and be seen by the wealthy of Paris. When it opened 1874, there were more gaslights inside the Opera than in the whole city of Pairs.
  • Opera and ballet came to France via Italy (teatro and balletto), who stole the ideas from the Greek.
  • The French developed ballet as it’s known today, based on geometry: hands held in circles representing the continuity of life, feet positioned in triangles representing stability.
  • Italian teatro were stories from Greek mythology set to music. The Opéra is full of statues of Apollo with his lyre, and other gods and goddesses related to music.
  • Napoleon III never actually walked through his private entrance to see a performance because he died in England before it was finished.
In the entrance hall.

In the entrance hall.



Isabella practiced some of what she’d learned on the tour in front of the mirrors in the foyer.

ballet 1


From the Opéra, it was on to Montemarte, the artsy district of Paris where the famous Impressionist painters and other artists hung out.

Edgar Degas apartment where that little unreadable square sign is.

Edgar Degas apartment (so says that little unreadable square sign).

We almost made it to the house where Van Gogh lived with his brother Theo for two years, but we got distracted by the cafe where Amélie was filmed (looks nothing like it did in the movie). We were hungry so we stopped there for a puff pastry with vegetables and an accidentally ordered (but delicious) salmon tartare.

Montemarte was a great place to wander, with lots of thrift stores and used clothing shops. We stopped at Lila Paris on rue des Martyrs, a shop of jewelry and hair accessories created exclusively by the owner, Lila.



Isabella’s one souvenir came from Lila, this beautiful headband.


When I asked Lila how she has time to make everything, she said she simply doesn’t have a life — when her family gets together on weekends, she is working. After being so accustomed to shops full of Chinese imports in the US, it was great to pay an artist directly for her work.


The next day we were off to Bons en Chablais, France (near the Swiss border) for some fun with old friends. See you there!

11 thoughts on “Opéra national de Paris & Montemarte

    • Thanks for checking in, Mike! Yeah, it’s been a whirlwind… not accustomed to being able to jump into a city for this many days and it’s been a total assault on the senses–in a good way. Leaving tomorrow. You home?

        • Catacombs didn’t make it this time around, unfortunately. Just too many stops for a first visit! Food is fantastic–local, fresh, small portions. Makes me hate agribusiness even more. And yes, crazy fun. :0 Just back from the Mont Blanc region of France/Swiss, which will hopefully make it into a post in the next week or two. Like walking thru a Sound of Music backdrop for 4 days.
          How’s Cbus?

  1. Beautiful. Are you sure that you don’t want to become a ballerina? I think there’s some latent talent somewhere. Love the headband that Isabella bought.
    Rufina and the Garcia Sisters miss you, but they are happy with anyone willing to throw them lettuce and chicken scratch and give them scratchy scratch under their uplifted

    • I’m tinkering with the idea of ballet. I could probably make it into pointe shoes by the time I’m 60, which would also be the time my butt would start dragging on the stage and my arms would flap with every move, which I’m sure theater goers would find irresistible. Thanks for the encouragement!!

    • Hi Bob, how nice of you to stop by and comment! Glad you like the pics… it’s always so hard to walk that balance between “interesting” and “not another…” 🙂 It’s an amazing place and not hard to see why so many artists have been drawn here over the centuries!

    • Ha! Good one. If only I still sent Christmas cards. They seem to be more and more obsolete with the advent of social media. I mean, we already know if the dog died or the kid went to college or we went on a nice vacation, so really what’s the point? Thanks for stoppin’ by MSP!

      • I haven’t mailed a Christmas card in years. Matt and I talk about doing one, but something comes up and we never get around to it. Yes, social media is contributing to making it more obsolete, but, if I’m honest, it’s really our procrastination that is responsible for my failure to send out holiday greetings. It was nice to stop by, as always. 🙂

Talk to me! I spend too much time alone in the studio.

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