Where did I get up to? Ah yes, Tom and I were standing on the steps of the Sacre Coeur being mushy. Well the hunger kicked in and we wound our way down the hill back a little square of bustling people and restaurants. We ate moules frites and drank wine in a cosy restaurant, with a German family speaking English on our left and an American couple speaking French on our right. Crowds passed chattering and waiters applauded when plates and glasses were smashed.
I really enjoyed the convivial atmosphere of the evenings in Paris. This was 9pm on a Sunday, shops were still open and people were happily bumbling around.
We went back after that, and after a lovely hot bath, I curled up in bed grinning over my book.
In the morning we sat in the dining room for the continental breakfast buffet, peering over the cafe curtains at the tall elegant buildings. I had a brioche with Nutella for my sugar high, a bowl of fruit salad, cheese, ham, boiled eggs, orange juice and a very strong coffee. After that we took the Metro to the Champs Elysee and strolled down it indulging in a little leche-vitrine, what the french call window shopping, literally 'licking the windows'. I cooed over the macaroons in Lauduree, and Tom critically eyed the cars in the huge automated show rooms.
Eventually we arrived at the Place du Concorde and gazed up at the obelisk, relishing in the diagrams carved into the plinth that show how they managed to transport the it and raise it. We decided that each of the four sides were different, and that they must name some very important people as there were a lot of Kartouches in the inscription. We strolled on ward then through the gardens watching fairy lights being strung in trees and leaves fell and wove themselves in my Hair.
Then came the Louvre. The glass pyramids really are fantastic, reflecting the fabulous ornate buildings surround them, and they house a subterranean reception area that is filled with light. I loved the lift for wheel chairs and pushchairs that was a circular platform that rose and fell but was the centre of a spiral stair case for the rest of us.
No art for us, no Mona Lisas. We were there for antiquities. We strolled though Egyptian, Greek Roman, Syrian, Phoenician wondering with awe. I am surprised at how much of my A level French comes back to me, as I carefully tried to translate the labels. We must have been in there for hours and hours and I think Tom thought he'd lost me as I dived in and out of worlds I read so much about. Hunger struck again though, and we went to the cafeteria for lunch. Tom had a lovely piece of salmon with rice and ratatouille and I had a large plate from the salad bar. It didn't go especially well with the red wine we were drinking, but it had all sorts of lovely things like smoked mackerel in it.
When we were bored of antiquities and wondering around beautiful back streets we came back the to hotel to change. Tom managed to outdo himself even further, as we were going the ballet at the Opera de Palais Garnier, the huge opera house. I put on my green dress, which while cruel is lovely, and my white satin gloves and gazed adoringly at Tom as we flew under the city in the Metro. The opera house is opulent to the point of sublime and ridiculous, all baroque curlicues and gilt and marble. It took my breath away. Walking the wide stair cases, I felt like I should have been in a ball gown, even thought there were people there in jeans and t shirts as well as tuxedos.
It only got better. An usher unlocked a door, and there was a curtained box with little chairs, and a mirror and bench. All the seats in the dress circle are boxes that work their way around the whole sweep of the auditorium. We were more towards the centre and I had a perfect clear few of the stage. The ballet was a version of Wuthering Heights, alternately contemporary and classical. I'm sure Tom had no idea what was going, indeed I found the story fairly hard to follow but the dancing was something else. When they were supposed to be frolicking in fields, you could see the immaturity and childish nature of the movements letting you know they were young. Hundreds of tiny balls fell from the ceiling, and like a weeble toy, righted themselves and flowers popped up unexpectedly. Later dancers supposed to be Heathcliff's visions of Catherine performed the same movements canon, but with some flying on ropes, or dancing on hidden platforms that made them look like they were floating. I especially loved the use of depth, of the movement travelling up and down stage rather that just presenting moving 2d pictures across the stage like a film.
Even the time Tom and I spent trying to find a toilet in the interval was amazing. We went through many doors and came upon a suite of rooms, clearly used for receptions as there was bar in the central one. These rooms had beautifully painted ceilings, views out across the surrounding streets, inlaid panelling. It was like something out of a Bond film casino. We stood for a while hand in hand watching the people below and the others theatre goers.