Sunday, 14 May 2017

Paris Day 3

Today we started our day at the Opera.  A 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was called the Salle des Capucines, because of its location but soon became known as the Palais Garnier, in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier.

Beyond the Rotonde des Abonnés, the Bassin de la Pythia leads to the Grand Escalier with its magnificent thirty-meter-high vault. Built of marble of various colours, it is home to the double staircase leading to the foyers and the various floors of the theatre. At the bottom of the stairs, a true theatre within the theatre, two female allegories holding torches greet spectators. The lyre is the main element: it reigns over all the decorative vocabulary, be it on capitals, heating grids or doorknobs.

In the tradition of Italian theatre, the horseshoe-shaped "French" auditorium, so-called for the way the seats are arranged according to their category, was designed for the audience to see and to be seen. Its metallic structure, hidden by marble, stucco, velvet and gilding, supports the weight of the 8-ton bronze and crystal chandelier with its 340 lights. The ceiling painted by Marc Chagall and commissioned by the Minister of Culture André Malraux was inaugurated on September 23, 1964.

We walked across the road and had lunch at Galleries Lafayette before going to walk the Paris Storey. The images of Paris, taken from high above the City of Lights. Showing how the Paris of the past become the Paris that we know and love today.

We then caught the train to La Madeleine a church dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene designed as a classical temple to the glory of Napoleon's army. Originally the site of a Jewish temple. La Madeleine, was first consecrated in 1182 to Mary Magdalen by the Bishop Maurice de Sully. This church is not a typical church. It has no crosses or bell towers. Instead, it resembles a Greek temple from the outside, but a gothic cathedral on the inside.

Two false starts were made on building a church on this site. The first design, commissioned in 1757 with construction begun in 1764, based on Mansart's Late Baroque church of Les Invalides, with a dome surmounting a Latin cross. In 1777 d'Ivry died and he was replaced by Guillaume-Martin Couture, who decided to start anew. He razed the incomplete construction and based his new design on the Roman Pantheon.

At the start of the Revolution, however, only the foundations had been finished and work was discontinued, while debate simmered as to what purpose the building might serve in Revolutionary France: a library, a ballroom, and a marketplace were all suggested.

In 1806 Napoleon made his decision, commissioning Pierre-Alexandre Barthélémy Vignon to build a Temple de la Gloire de la Grande Armée (Temple to the Glory of the Great Army) based on the design of an antique temple. The existing foundations were again razed and work began anew.
With completion of the Arc de Triomphe in 1808, the original commemorative role for the temple was blunted. After the fall of Napoleon, with the Catholic reaction during the Restoration, King Louis XVIII determined that the structure would be used as a church.

Vignon died in 1828 before completing the project and was replaced by Jacques-Marie Huvé. In 1837 it was briefly suggested that the building might best be utilized as a train station, but the building was finally consecrated as a church in 1842. Today, the Madeleine is affiliated with a Benedictine abbey. 
The Madeleine is built in the Neo-Classical style and was inspired by the Maison Carrée at Nimes, the best-preserved of all Roman temples. Its 52 Corinthian columns, each 20 metres high, are carried around the entire exterior of the building.

Inside, the church has a single nave with three domes, lavishly gilded in a decor inspired by Renaissance artists. At the rear of the church, above the high altar, stands a statue by Charles Marochetti depicting St Mary Magdalene being carried up to heaven by two angels, depicting the way she was said to have died in the Grotto of St. Baume. The image evokes the ecstasy she reportedly experienced often in her daily prayer while in seclusion.  La Madeleine is filled with powerful magnetic energies and the legacy of the Magdalene is so present here.

We arrived in time to hear the rehearsal of a large choir and live orchestra which was just a beautiful way to enjoy this amazing church.

We then caught the train to the Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries) a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was eventually opened to the public in 1667, and became a public park after the French Revolution

The Tuileries Gardens get their name from the tile factories which previously stood on the site where Queen Catherine de Medici built the Palais des Tuileries in 1564. The famous gardener of King Louis XIV, André Le Nôtre, re-landscaped the gardens in 1664 to give them their current French formal garden style. The gardens, which separate the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde, are a cultural walking place for Parisians where Maillol statues stand alongside those of Rodin or Giacometti. 

We walked the entire length of this magnificent parade from the Tuileries Gardens to The Arc de Triumph at the other end. Passing through the Place de la Concorde with the Luxor Obelisk a 23 metres high Egyptian obelisk standing at the center.

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, (Triumphal Arch of the Star) is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l'Étoile — the étoile or "star" of the juncture formed by its twelve radiating avenues.

The Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated in 1836 by French king, Louis-Philippe, who dedicated it to the armies of the Revolution and the Empire. The Unknown Soldier was buried at the base of the arch in 1921. The flame of remembrance is rekindled every day at 18:30.

Looking back down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées an avenue 1.9 kilometres (1.2 mi) long and 70 metres (230 ft) wide, running between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located.

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