Archive for the ‘ornate’ Category

“Fancy Pants” Paris

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Today, we walked along the Rue de Rivoli, which was the first formal street designed to be commercial. It led us to the Place de la Concorde, which is the central access of the city.  This area contains all sorts of designer stores and the roads have vistas that lead to the Louvre, Champs Elysee, the National Assembly, and the Opera.  All of this activity causes the traffic and other noises to be hectic.

We stopped in Zara to shop…during class. I love how we are able to do that during class, but  it really does help us to get a sense of this major shopping area, which is important from a planning aspect, right?

We continued walking to the Opera Garnier, which is more ornate than Versailles (and I thought Versailles was ornate…) and really anything else in Paris.  It was built 1861-1876.  Orginially it was called Salle des Capucines, but the name was then changed to Palais Garnier after the architect, Charles Garnier.  It has marble floors, columns, chandeliers, and a LOT of gold since at the time “more is more.”  The proportions of the doorways, stairs, and rooms are huge to enhance the grandiose feeling.  The acoustics and view of the theater are not the best, but it would not have mattered to those coming because they would go to the opera to be seen.  It was a social scene, where the Paris’ elite would go to show off and gossip.  If we had come here before going to Versailles, I probably would have found Versailles boring in comparison.

After class, we went to Galleries Lafayette, one of the first department stores ever.  There were two buildings: one that had mostly house-ware and the other with clothing separated by designer.  Most of the products were aimed at women, with bright and colorful displays.  All of the appliances had multiple color options.  In the second building, I saw a beautiful Valentino dress, which cost 1,290 euros, which is more than my budget for the whole month.  It was crazy to see so much expensive clothing all it one place.  It and the shopping area put Tysons I II, an upscale mall from home, to shame.  I left the store feeling so overwhelmed.

Versailles and Mass at Notre Dame

Monday, July 9th, 2012

On Saturday morning, the whole MICEFA group got on the RER and we went to Versailles.  It was drizzling and you could see the crowds entering Versailles, which didn’t seem promising.  At first, our audio tour taught us the history of the chateau, then we were lead through the rooms in the main part of the building, such as the Hall of Mirrors and the King and Queen’s Bedchambers.  Versailles is ridiculously ornate.  There is gold everywhere, the ceilings are painted, and there is rich wall paper and paintings on the walls.  It is hard to imagine how one lived in such a place, and harder still to imagine how normal it seemed to the royalty who called it their home.  The only major difference with how Versailles appears now, besides the lines and portions roped off, is the modern art displayed both inside the building and in the garden.  I thought that it deterred from understanding what Versailles looked and felt like at the time.


On Sunday morning, I went to mass at Notre Dame.  I did not understand what was going on most of the time, especially since it was in French and Latin, but it was still a spectacular experience with the incense, recitation, readings, and communion.

This weekend it has rained a fair amount.  If I was at Mary Washington, all of the girls would be wearing rainboots, but I have not seen a single pair in Paris.  In Paris, the women wear fashionable shoes no matter what the weather or the condition of the sidewalk.  The puddles on the sidewalk are not as bad here though because the sidewalks are slanted and have drains built in.

Today, there were multiple jets that flew over Paris.  Everyone on the streets stopped and watched them and took pictures (including me).  I tried to find out if there was any news about it, but couldn’t find any.

Tonight, in honor of our visit to Versailles, we watched Marie Antoinette.  I had never seen it before and honestly do not know much about how historically accurate or inaccurate it is, but it was really cool to see the palace in it and recognize the rooms.