A Night at the Opera

For the week we spent in Paris, we rented an apartment in the 2nd arrondissement.  It is a terrific location, just a short walk to the Royal Palace, the Louvre, close to two subway stations and in an area with lots of restaurants and shops.  In addition, it is about 4 blocks from Palais Garnier (pics), one of the most famous opera houses in the world.

Our host for the apartment suggested either taking the tour of Palais Garnier or, better yet, checking out ticket availability for performances while we were staying there.  We did just that and found that we could get tickets.

Palais Garnier

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Eiffel Tower

It’s the Eiffel Tower.  The most visited paid monument in the world.  It’s hard to imagine that this beautiful tower was built as the entrance arch for the 1889 World’s Fair.  The builder, Gustave Eiffel put up about half of the money needed to construct the tower in return for which he was given a 20 year contract that permitted him to collect the fees for entrance to the tower.  By the end of the world’s fair there were almost 2 million visitors.  After this 20 year period, ownership would revert to the city of Paris and they planned to tear it down.

Sadly, during our visit in Paris, the top level of the Eiffel tower was closed.  Such is the nature of travel.  You can’t always visit a particular place during a perfect time for weather, events or availability of major attractions.

Orléans, France

Orléans (pics), namesake for that lovely US city at the mouth of the Mississippi River, marks the eastern end of the Loire Valley.  Naturally, it is located along the banks of the Loire River and is only about 110 km southwest of Paris.

Place du Martroi

Orléans has a very lovely historical center and has (go figure) one of France’s most flamboyant Gothic cathedrals, the 13th century Cathédrale Ste-Croix.  Orléans’ place in history was really set in 1429 when the young peasant girl, Joan of Arc rallied the armies of Charles VII to stage a rout of the invading English forces, a turning point in the Hundred Years War.  All around town you will find plaques and monuments dedicated to her, most notably the statue in the middle of Place du Martroi.

Chinon, France

The French town of Chinon (pics) is located just southeast of the city of Tours.  The region is notable for the cabernet-franc wines produced here as well as the castle that dominates the town from its setting on a high bluff.

Château de Chinon

The castle is also know as Château de Chinon, portions of which date back to the 5th century.  Most of the town was built in the 15th century and a walk down the ancient street of Rue Voltaire is like a walk through history.

Also, along Rue Voltaire you will find the restaurant called Le Tennessee.  Oddly, they seemed to have a mostly Mexican menu but they do serve Jack Daniels.