(Continued from Part 1)
The production was Lucia di Lammermoor, a Donizetti Opera about – what else? – forbidden love. The performance was excellent, the singers were top-notch, and the atmosphere was electric. Having attended a handful of Operas in Toronto, I was surprised and delighted to see that during this performance, the lead role of Lucia (on this night played by Mina Ninasyan) received a standing ovation and a curtain call all her own, before the act was over. Not that she did not deserve it – she explored a vocal range I have never before witnessed live – but to see the French treat Opera almost like a rock concert was refreshing and heartwarming.
Tip: If you show up ahead of time (at least an hour to be safe), and are under the age of 28 you can purchase last minute tickets for as little as €35. I have heard that tickets can be found as low as €15 if you arrive more than an hour and a half before the performance, but have yet to verify this. Given that my seat was Orchestra Level, 12th Row – normally a €190-210 ticket – I would say the wait was well worth it! This information applies to Opéra Bastille, which is a more modern house than Palais Garnier and frankly, less magnificent. The same ticket deals may apply to Palais Garnier, however I am told there are fewer seats reserved for young viewers. When all is said and done, Opera is Opera! Don your finest attire, enjoy a glass of champagne, and prepare yourself for an extravagant musical spectacle that has been enjoyed throughout Europe for hundreds of years.
After leaving the Opera Ana and I stopped and sat in the Napoleon Courtyard of the Louvre, talking about our families and the lives we had back home. It was comforting hearing someone else talk about the experience of leaving loved ones behind, and also the excitement of exploring a foreign place on your own. It didn’t hurt that we were sitting on the same grounds that French royalty had called home for centuries.
After awhile Ana and I parted ways and I returned to the hostel. The next morning at breakfast, my Canadian roommate Lizzy whom I had met the night before informed me that she planned on visiting the Louvre. Although I had originally planned to go home, I decided to stay one more day and see what I could see, this time on the inside.
We spent much of the afternoon at the Louvre. I took many photos, but not even one did justice to what one experiences when visiting the world’s largest museum. The works of Eugene Delacroix and Théodore Géricault, many of which I had come across in various French history courses were particularly impressive. We paid €15 for our day passes, which is the same price for a YEAR-long membership for 18-25 year olds (for 26-28 year olds the price is still only €35). It is impossible to see all that the Louvre has to offer in one day, so if you plan to spend extended time in Paris a year-long membership is a good idea. Even if you only visit twice, it is still double the value of a day pass! The museum is busy and one of the more touristy attractions in Paris, probably second only to the Eiffel Tower, but it is a grand reminder of just how much history can be kept in one place.
After leaving the Louvre, we decided to trek down Champs d’Élysées before it got too cold. After purchasing Camembert and Red Wine en route, we sat on a bench just in front of the Rond-Point that surrounds L’Arc de Triomphe and watched the traffic go by (note: I would not wish driving in that Rond-Point on my worst enemy; we saw one accident and numerous close calls in the span of an hour). Just as we were leaving, I snapped this photo:
This was by far my favourite image a great bookend on the weekend, leaving me satisfied that I had finally seen a part of this historic city. It also confirmed my suspicion that Paris looks even better at night.