March 13th, 14th, 15th
“When spring comes to Paris the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise” — Henry Miller
The last few days, the weather at Paris is becoming gradually warmer. Despite the occasional light shower, I’ve been able to enjoy Paris’ warm sunshine and pleasant light breeze. The places I adventured to in these past few days ranges from the grande and magnificent Palais Garnier (L’Opera Garnier) to the petit yet casually chic lesser-known private museums like Musée Gustave Moreau, Musée Cognacq-Jay and Maison du Victor Hugo. I got a feel for Paris’ artistic atmosphere through promenades through the artist districts Montmartre and Le Marais. I was also able to discover a little about French perfume and tea industry at the Fragonard Musée du Parfum and the Musée du thé of Mariage Frères.
Originally, I wanted to see a ballet at L’Opera Garnier, but since the show I wanted to see, Orphée et Eurydice, does not premiere until the night I’m leaving Paris, I am not able to fulfill this hope during this trip (saving it for my next time at Paris). Despite that, I’m still stunned by the gorgeous interior of the great opera house. The shining halls of the opera are adored with numerous paintings and sculptures of famous dancers, singers, playwrights, and directors. The whole place has such a royal feeling that its name Palais Garnier is a rather appropriate description. Walking on the grande staircase in the opera house, I feel like I’m not just a spectator, but an actress part of a grand production, just like Charles Garnier has envisioned.
interior of Palais Garnier
After visiting the Palais Garnier, I went to the small perfume museum of the perfume brand Fragonard from Grasse, a small town in the South of France. There, I was pleased to learn about the process of making perfume: from extracting the essences, creating a new scent, to designing bottles to best preserve the perfume.
The “instrument” of a professional perfumer. Usually, a perfume scent contains about 20 kinds of different essential oils and takes a few months to create. Some perfume scents contain more than 200 different kinds of essential oils and can take a few years to create. A professional perfumer need to have a super acute nose that can tell apart roughly 400 different kind of scents and have to have a university degree in chemistry plus a few years of professional training.
At the end of the day, I visited yet another church, Église St-Eustache.
stained glass at St-Eustache
I visited the most romantic district of Paris, the Montmartre (where the movie “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain” is filmed). At Musée Gustave Moreau, I was able to see the artist’s entire process of creating a painting: from making sketches to painting layer by layer. Afterwards, I mounted the Sacré-Cœur Basilica for a great panorama of Paris, the city of lights and love.
Some of Gustave Moreau’s works and the interior of this residence
Exterior of Basilica Sacré-Cœur
Paris from the top of Montmartre
Interior of Basilica Sacré-Cœur
I devoted today to two small museums: Maison du Victor Hugo and Musée Cognacq-Jay, both of them petit in size but exquisite at the same time.
At Maison du Victor Hugo, I got to learn about Hugo’s life, relationship with his children and the two most important women in his life, his wife Adèle Foucher and his faithful mistress and admirer Juliette Droucet, his political stance, his social status, and how all these things influenced his works. Also, I’m awed by the recreation of the most beautifully decorated Chinese style room furnished by Victor Hugo himself.
Victor Hugo’s childhood best friend, first love, and wife, Adèle Foucher
Hugo’s mistress and admirer Juliette Droucet
Victor Hugo with his son Francois-Victor Hugo
The Chinese room designed by Victor Hugo for Juliette Droucet
Victor Hugo’s grandchildren, George and Jeanne
After a memorable visit to Maison du Victor Hugo, I visited the Musée Cognacq-Jay. This museum has a huge collection of tiny statues, portraits, porcelain, and decor of the 18th century that are just as delicate as the museum itself. Walking through this small museum gave me a feel for the life and taste of the Parisian elites around the 18th-19th century. The classical music from the concert happening above the museum also added to the 18th century feel.
My favorite pieces from Musée Cognacq-Jay