Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Paris: Breathtaking

I spent a lot of time in Paris walking, walking to the Eiffel Tower, walking to the Louvre, walking to the Palais Garnier (the Paris Opera House), walking EVERYWHERE! It was awesome and Paris is a very comprehensive city, so navigating it was easy. I always kept a city map handy and was never afraid to ask where something was, "Excusez-moi, où est le....." or "Excusez-moi, où est la...", yeah, I told you my French is terrible. That's probably one of the only phrases I knew without even thinking about it. Merci, Canada, for making me take French up until grade 9!!! I dropped French to study Japanese, but looking back, I wish I'd kept the French and studied Japanese AND French. It would've helped me find an nice, cozy, high-paying government job.

Anyhooo, back to the city of wonders. As I wandered day in and day out around Paris, I found myself at all of the prime tourist spots. However, I knew I had to see the Palais Garnier, not because it was merely another "must-see" attraction, but because it held a special place in my heart: I was very sick as a child. I was so sick that the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted me a wish. I asked if I could go to Toronto, stay at the Fairmount Royal York Hotel, see the Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages Theatre (now named the Ed Mirvish Theatre) and do some other things (we went to the Science Centre, ate at delicious restaurants, etc...). My wish was granted and after watching the play, which is amazing, I was fortunate enough to meet some cast members, go on a tour of the theatre and also get a program signed by all of the cast members. The songs from the musical are still on my iPod and a giant wooden poster with all of the cast members' signatures hangs above my bed. 

Why did a simple musical show leave such an impression on me? Other than it being the very first musical I'd ever seen, the story line felt like one I could relate to (I've been left with multiple scars and the man I  was in love with always loved someone/something else more than me, and I loved him and more importantly myself enough to let him go). Even more than that though was that by the time I finally was able to use my wish, I was finally healthy and my life had, pretty much, returned to normal. So it all felt a bit surreal and I think we all felt relief. My immediate family was there, as were my childhood friend and my aunt and uncle. We had a blast and I don't think the Phantom of the Opera was simply a play for any of us. It was...Magical. Therefore, it was only fitting that I see the place that inspired the Gothic novel The Phantom of the Opera, which was, of course, the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical of the same name. Sadly, I have not yet read the novel. However, I DID buy it at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris ;)  

I wish I'd booked tickets to see, well, anything at the opera house. Alas, I didn't and only took pictures. Enjoying an opera at the Palais Garnier is reason enough to return to France! Alright, enough of the back story. Here are some photos!

 The first view I got of the ENORMOUS structure.
 The other side: A close-up of the plaque with Charles Garnier's name. Garnier was the architect of the neo-Baroque building, completed in 1874.
 Ahhh, look at the spikes jutting out on the lanterns and the golden statues on the rooftop...Beautiful!
 I was enamored with the metal work!
 This is the view from across the street. It was HUGE!
Yet another side: Breathtaking statues that gleamed in the sunlight! I could get used to living in a place I'd see this on a daily basis!

Another place I couldn't pass-up seeing was the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. It was just as breathtaking and I heard the chimes ringing. It was packed around the entrance, but I managed to get in a few good shots.

This shot doesn't do the magnificence of this place justice.
 For some reason, people were clearing out from around this place, but you can see from all of the heads that there were A LOT of people there!
 I love the rays of sun shining down on this place. Gorgeous weather and a gorgeous cathedral!
Can you see the flying buttresses? I realize I didn't get a good side view of them here :(
This is the back end and it's just as spectacular! LOVE the architecture!!! 
 The grounds around the cathedral were stunning and I took a lot of pictures of the surrounding area!
 I don't know the name of this tree, but it's leaves are a vibrant green on top and then uber white underneath. It was so pretty!!!

Being that the bookstore Shakespeare & Co. was sooo close, I couldn't NOT go there. Obviously, I bought books. I thought it only fitting to buy and English translation of The Little Prince (1943), written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and, as I previously mentioned, an English translation of Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera (1910). I would have purchased more had my suitcases allowed, hehehe!

 I LOVE books. Hello, my name is Miki and I'm a bibliophile.
Another type of heaven on Earth :)

Of course I eventually made it to the Eiffel Tower and, shock, it was yet another warm, sunny day outside! I walked, of course, and it was totally worth it. You can eventually see it as you approach. I mean how could you miss the thing??? It was a moment when I just had to stop and pinch myself as a reminder that it was all real...To be steeped in so much culture, history in a country that is on the receiving end of...Well, madness. France apparently is the most visited country in the world, and I can now understand why. I want to go back! I want to move there! It's stunning. The things that left me speechless...Well, you know me well enough to know that when I can't speak it's astonishing, lol!

 I can see you, Eiffel Tower! You can't hide from me!
 Getting closer!
 Sooo close! Move outta my way, people...Please! I gotta see this thing!
 Finally got there! Standing right under it and looking up. 

Alright, I've hit some highlights and completely ignored the food situation, but I think France is going to be a four-post situation since I still have SOOO MUCH MORE to post about, not to mention photos to share! Until then, stay cool, especially if you're in southwestern Ontario where the humidity is brutal, or the gulf, where my former student just texted that it's 52˚C!!!


  1. omg i love small towns and antique bookstores that look like they came out of an old movie :) sounds like a fantastic trip

    1. Thank you, JD! Paris isn't small, but it's definitely full of history and character and the people, food and sights are incredible! Thank you for reading :)