The Élysée Palace in Paris

January 1st, 2018 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, Paris |

© Remi Mathis(cc-by-sa-3.0

© Remi Mathis(cc-by-sa-3.0

The Élysée Palace has been the official residence of the President of France since 1848. Dating to the early 18th century, it contains the office of the President and the meeting place of the Council of Ministers. It is located near the Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, the name Élysée deriving from Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology. Important foreign visitors are hosted at the nearby Hôtel de Marigny, a palatial residence. The architect Armand-Claude Molet possessed a property fronting on the road to the village of Roule, west of Paris (now the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré), and backing onto royal property, the Grand Cours through the Champs-Élysées. He sold this in 1718 to Louis Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne, Count of Évreux (families: Dukes and Princes of Bouillon and Sedan: La Marck), with the agreement that Mollet would construct an hôtel particulier for the count, fronted by an entrance court and backed by a garden. The Hôtel d’Évreux was finished and decorated by 1722, and though it has undergone many modifications since, it remains a fine example of the French classical style. At the time of his death in 1753, Évreux was the owner of one of the most widely admired houses in Paris, and it was bought by King Louis XV as a residence for the Marquise de Pompadour, his mistress. In 1873, during the Third Republic, The Élysée became the official presidential residence.   read more…

The Nice Côte d’Azur Opera House

December 29th, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Opera Houses, Theaters, Libraries |

© flickr.com - debs-eye/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – debs-eye/cc-by-2.0

The Opéra de Nice is the principal opera venue in Nice on the French Riviera. It offers three types of performances: operas, ballets and classical concerts ; and houses the Ballet Nice Méditerranée and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice. The “petit théâtre en bois” (wooden theatre) was first created in 1776 by Marquess Alli-Maccarani. Sold in 1787 to a group of gentry, it reopened in 1790 under the name “Théâtre Royal”. In 1826, the city of Nice, encouraged by King Charles Félix, bought it from its owners and had it demolished and rebuilt. It was inaugurated in 1828 with Giovanni Pacini‘s Il Barone di Bolsheim. In 1856, a great ball was organized in the honour of King Victor Emmanuel II.   read more…

The Orient Express

December 20th, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Hotels, Paris |

Orient Express Restaurant car © Epistola8/cc-by-sa-4.0

Orient Express Restaurant car © Epistola8/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Orient Express was a long-distance passenger train service created in 1883 by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL). The route and rolling stock of the Orient Express changed many times. Several routes in the past concurrently used the Orient Express name, or slight variations. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name became synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The two city names most prominently associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul), the original endpoints of the timetabled service. The Orient Express was a showcase of luxury and comfort at a time when travelling was still rough and dangerous.   read more…

Palais Garnier in Paris

December 1st, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Opera Houses, Theaters, Libraries, Paris |

Palais Garnier © flickr.com - Peter Rivera/cc-by-2.0

Palais Garnier © flickr.com – Peter Rivera/cc-by-2.0

The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was called the Salle des Capucines, because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier, in recognition of its opulence and its architect, Charles Garnier. The theatre is also often referred to as the Opéra Garnier and historically was known as the Opéra de Paris or simply the Opéra, as it was the primary home of the Paris Opera and its associated Paris Opera Ballet until 1989, when the Opéra Bastille opened at the Place de la Bastille. The Paris Opera now mainly uses the Palais Garnier for ballet. The Palais Garnier has been called “probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, or the Sacré Coeur Basilica.” This is at least partly due to its use as the setting for Gaston Leroux‘s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera and, especially, the novel’s subsequent adaptations in films and Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s popular 1986 musical. Another contributing factor is that among the buildings constructed in Paris during the Second Empire, besides being the most expensive, it has been described as the only one that is “unquestionably a masterpiece of the first rank.” This opinion is far from unanimous however: the 20th-century French architect Le Corbusier once described it as “a lying art” and contended that the “Garnier movement is a décor of the grave”. The Palais Garnier also houses the Bibliothèque-Musée de l’Opéra de Paris (Paris Opera Library-Museum), although the Library-Museum is no longer managed by the Opera and is part of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the museum is included in unaccompanied tours of the Palais Garnier.   read more…

Boulevard Haussmann in Paris

October 6th, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General, Paris |

Boulevard_Haussmann - Street sign © flickr.com - Sergio Calleja/cc-by-sa-2.0

Boulevard Haussmann – Street sign © flickr.com – Sergio Calleja/cc-by-sa-2.0

Boulevard Haussmann, 2.53 kilometres (1.57 mi) long between the crossings of Boulevard des Italiens / Boulevard Montmartre and Rue de Monceau / Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré from the 8th to the 9th arrondissement, is one of the wide tree-lined boulevards created in Paris by Napoleon III, under the direction of his Prefect of the Seine, Baron Haussmann. The Boulevard Haussmann is mostly lined with apartment blocks, whose regulated cornice height gives a pleasing eyeline to the Boulevard. The department stores Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps are sited on this street.   read more…

The Gulf of Morbihan

October 2nd, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: General |

Île-aux-Moines © Pinpin/cc-by-sa-3.0

Île-aux-Moines © Pinpin/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Gulf of Morbihan is a natural harbour on the coast of the Département of Morbihan in the south of Brittany. This English name is taken from the French version: le golfe du Morbihan. It is more accurately called ‘the Morbihan’ directly from its Breton name which is Ar Mor Bihan, meaning ‘the little sea’ (Compare the Welsh y môr bychan), as opposed to the Atlantic Ocean outside, (Ar Mor Bras). Legend says that there are as many islands in the Gulf as there are days of the year. However, this is untrue and the gulf has about 40, depending on the tide. Many islands are private property, except the largest two, l’Île-aux-Moines and l’Île-d’Arz.   read more…

The Cluny Abbey in Burgundy

September 1st, 2017 | Destination: | Rubric: European Union, General, House of the Month |

© Jan Sokol/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Jan Sokol/cc-by-sa-3.0

Cluny Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was dedicated to St Peter. The abbey was constructed in the Romanesque architectural style, with three churches built in succession from the 4th to the early 12th centuries. The earliest basilica was the world’s largest church until the St. Peter’s Basilica construction began in Rome. Cluny was founded by William I, Duke of Aquitaine in 910. He nominated Berno as the first Abbot of Cluny, subject only to Pope Sergius III. The abbey was notable for its stricter adherence to the Rule of St. Benedict, whereby Cluny became acknowledged as the leader of western monasticism. The establishment of the Benedictine Order was a keystone to the stability of European society that was achieved in the 11th century. In 1790 during the French Revolution, the abbey was sacked and mostly destroyed, with only a small part of the Abbey surviving. Starting around 1334, the Abbots of Cluny maintained a townhouse in Paris known as the Hôtel de Cluny, which has been a public museum since 1843. Apart from the name, it no longer possesses anything originally connected with Cluny.   read more…

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