Sacre Coeur, Musée d’Orsay, Opera Garnier, Champs Élysées & department store Christmas decor

The Jeanne d’Arc statue near our apartment has been adorned with a Rudolph nose (of course) which has fallen to her shoulder.  Another set of statues that are part of a fancy fountain at Place de la Concorde has also been fitted with red noses which, thankfully, have stayed on.  We had to buy some shoes and warmer clothes this week and walked to the nearby, huge, beautiful department stores.  I didn’t think other countries went crazy with Christmas shopping like the US does, but…we’ve exported everything, I guess.  American Christmas carols play in the department stores and next to the temporary stores and restaurants on the Champs Élysée (where Bing Crosby plays over and over), and Burberry (Ok, that’s British.) has numerous displays inside one of the stores and in several of its windows.  The crowds on Saturday in and around the department stores were not to be believed.  But between then and today we got most of what we needed.  We looked at many stores for sneakers for Laurel and me.  Laurel couldn’t find any to fit her, but just finding a store that actually sells women’s sneakers was a feat in itself.  I knew that Paris is known for its fashion and for its stylish people, but I didn’t think about how that would translate into what’s available for sale.  For one thing, everyone wears black winter coats.  Laurel was wearing her black jacket when I was looking for her in the department store Saturday, and I never could find her.  (She eventually found me.)  Second, most women wear knee-high boots.  The others wear short boots or pumps.  That’s pretty much it.  I figure they must go to the country once in a while and go on a walk or hike, but it’s a mystery to me where they buy the shoes for those occasions.

I closed on the condo last week!  Yay!  While I was taking care of that, the kids did some sightseeing on their own – Musée d’Orsay where kids get in free and Sacre Coeur church.  Musée d’Orsay is in a beautiful, old train station and has impressionist art, including lots of Van Goghs, and other art, including Whistler’s Mother, from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Sacre Coeur is in a neighborhood with lots of cool graffiti and a funky vibe.  My friend Suzanne says it used to be just outside the Paris city limits and was home to many artists who couldn’t afford to live in the city.  Laurel says the church is stunning inside, but no picture-taking is allowed.  She took one anyway in the back because she thought it was funny that there are loud machines dispensing Pope JP II coins next to signs telling people to be quiet, not take pictures, and respect those praying.

On Wednesday we toured the spectacular Opera Garnier where the actual theater/auditorium is just a small portion of the enormous building.  Back in the day – 1860’s – watching the beautiful people and being seen was more important than attending the thrice-weekly operas.  Townspeople would go inside to the galleries outside the theater and watch the wealthy, fabulously-dressed people as they walked in.

Tomorrow we start our 3-week train trip of Central and Eastern Europe.  We’ll spend the next two nights in Baden-Baden in Germany’s Black Forest.  The train from Paris to there is a high-speed one that can go nearly 200 mph.

Paris has quite a few statues and street names of famous Americans – Franklin D. Roosevelt – Avenue and Metro station, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, Thomas Jefferson, among others.

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Musée d’Orsay

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Opera Garnier

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This Sephora store is HUGE.  They must have been giving away something quite valuable to have a line out the door like they did.

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There were a number of plumbing problems at our apartment, some of which have finally been fixed.  We’re still waiting on a shower door and a pipe repair for the slow leak in the kitchen.  Josiane, who owns this apartment, left us this when the plumber was here and we were out.

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