Friday, March 5, 2010

Walk 18: Grands Boulevards Walk

This weekend we decided to bust out walks like crazy, so today Rebecca and I completed three, that’s right, three walks. Yep, we’re pretty much amazing.

Up first was the Grands Boulevards Walk. We started out on a major shopping street, Boulevard Haussmann, right next to Printemps department store. Since Alice et le Pays de Marveilles is coming out soon (movies get to France a little late) all of the displays had amazing Alice themes, right down to a giant teapot hanging down between stories. Since I was in a group with Rebecca, Rosalie, Rich, Chelsea, and Courtney, we got a little distracted by the twinkle coming from Tiffany’s and went in to see its sparkling source.

We eventually decided diamonds were out of our budgets and went outside again. We hadn’t been in the fresh air for long, though, before retail beckoned again and we headed into the Galleries Lafayette, another department store. The French seriously know how to shop in style. Just take a look at that stained glass dome.

The entire walk focused on how Baron Haussmann rebuilt Paris during the reign of Napoleon III, and as we headed back outside it was neat to think that these beautiful, open boulevards were the result of his efforts. Charles Garnier designed his famous opera during this same period. Unfortunately for us, rehearsals were going on and we didn’t get to go in. We did get to look around in the gift shop and take pictures of the amazing architecture, however. If this looks a little familiar, you’ve probably seen Phantom of the Opera. Yes, this is that opera, and there’s even a real lake under the building.

We then made our way down the Rue de la Paix, where we gaped at the luxury jewelry. I got really excited when I realized that I was window shopping on the Rue de La Paix, just like Kay Thompson did in Funny Face.

In the center of the upcoming Place de Vendome we saw a column erected to celebrate Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz (apparently the Arche de Triomphe wasn’t enough). It was actually made from the 1200 captured Austrian canons.

We then came to a baroque style church, l’Église Saint Roch, built by Louis XIV. It was beautiful and gave us a chance to sit down for a minute.

We finished up by seeing a golden statue of Jeanne d’Arc in the Place de Pyramids. Unfortunately, Jeanne is now the symbol of the ultra-rightwing Front National, and the statue has become the point of many of their rallies.

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