Palais Garnier, Paris: Where over-the-top succeeds

 

Where Gumbo Was #207

The Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera and of (in many people's minds) the Phantom of the Opera, is an astonishing building, from outside, and especially the inside. It's hard to imagine anything more over-the-top Baroque.

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As you might expect for so famous a building, especially one previously featured with gorgeous photos in a blog by Samantha, Gumbo's whereabouts did not go undetected, with correct identifications by George G and PortMoresby.

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Despite the building's incredibly ornate decoration, laid on thick, it never becomes the parody of itself that it might. Charles Garnier, the author of the building, manages a striking overall effect, even when individual touches may seem just a bit too much.

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And I say that despite finding my attention constantly wrapped up in details and angles as we toured the building. The grand tableaus are there, but for me, the best features are the contrasts of color and light, the juxtaposition of walls and vistas past them. I've tried to show that here.

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And yes, as I worked with the pictures, I did find myself musing on the shadows that might have masked a phantom, on lovers half unseen, and a place to construct fantasies of one's own.

1000256Garnier is honored in the courtyard; the plaque shows the floor plan of the building and almost overwhelms the architect above!

10002581000259100026110002681000270100027710002791000280At the base of the grand staircase, one of the figures holding up the spectacular lights1000281(0)1000283(0)1000301Yes, it does look as if the light is growing from her head. And it is.

100028410002861000288The auditorium was closed for rehearsal, but we had a sneak peek through one of the private boxes, with its luxurious fittings. Oddly, they are called 'baignoires,' which translates to 'bathtubs.'

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From a balcony window, a view toward a store under construction with a scaffolding that seems to reflect the building.

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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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