If the weather is at all conducive at intermission time, you can step out onto the upper terrace of the Théâtre du Châtelet to have some fine views of the Seine with its bridges, and the Ile de la Cite off to the right.
The bridge in the foreground in the first photo is the Pont au Change, and the metal one further on is the Pont Notre Dame. The towers of Notre Dame are visible in the center of the photo, and the building on the right is the Tribunal de Commerce on the Quai de la Corse.
Second photo: A closer view of Notre Dame and the Tribunal de Commerce.
Third photo: The road by the river is the Quai de Gesvres.
Fourth photo: Opera goers taking in the view at intermission time.
Fifth photo: Théâtre de la Ville, as seen from the Théâtre du Châtelet on the other side of the square.
The opera I saw at the Théâtre du Châtelet in 2006 was a concert performance of Le Chateau de Barbe-Blue (Bluebeard's Castle) by Bela Bartok (1881-1945), which I remembered from a staged production in Frankfurt am Main in 1994 and 1997.
Since this is such a short opera (only one hour) they always try to find something to combine it with to make a full evening. The solution in Frankfurt was to sing the same opera twice but have the action run backwards, so to speak, on the second time through. The seven ominous doors in Bluebeard's Castle were all gradually sealed up with bricks during the first showing, and the bricks were gradually removed during the second, with the character of Judith reacting accordingly, getting helplessly trapped the first time and emancipating herself the second. At the time I liked this idea, and I went to several performances, but it didn't fill the house.
The solution in Paris was to precede Bluebeard with Daphnis et Chloe by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) for orchestra and chorus but without the dancers, the connection being that both works were composed at about the same time, around 1911.
The big attraction of this program, and the reason all three performances were sold out weeks in advance, was that the great Jessye Norman came out of retirement, so to speak, to sing the role of Judith in Bluebeard. Which she did exceedingly well. She was sixty years old, but still at the height of her powers.
Second photo: Entrance hall.
Third and fourth photos: Inside the Théâtre du Châtelet.
Fifth photo: Out in front of the theater after the performance.
The Place du Châtelet on the right bank of the Seine is unique in that it is flanked by two large and (from a distance) identical-looking theaters, both of which belong to the city of Paris.
The one on the right is the Théâtre de la Ville, which is where the great actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1943) used to hold forth, in fact the theater was named after her from 1949 to 1967, and one of the cafes on the ground floor still bears her name.
Spoken drama is still an important part of their program, but they also do numerous dance productions, classical music concerts and "musics of the world" featuring recitals by musicians from India and the Middle East.
The one on the left is the Théâtre du Châtelet, which used to be a municipal opera house but now presents mainly musicals, concerts and dance performances (as of 2013).
Second photo: Season poster at the Théâtre de la Ville.
Third photo: The Théâtre du Châtelet as seen from across the bridge on the Ile de la Cite, with a river barge going past.
Fourth photo: Place du Châtelet as seen from the Théâtre de la Ville.
It is a very lively place, with movie theaters, cafés, and brasseries. It offers a magnificent view of the Palais de Justice. The square owes its name to an ancient fortress, the Grand Châtelet, built for defending the Pont au Change bridge which it overlooked, but it was then destroyed under the rule of Napoleon I. The square's present aspect, however, is due to Napoleon III. In the centre, there is the Fontana du Châtelet fountain decorated with sphinxes and statues, and with foundations from 1858. The column, dating from 1808, was erected in remembrance of Napoleon I's victories.
In a lovely quarter, a modern building is surrounded by history and classical monuments. It is a shopping mall that didn't impress me but... I'm not a shopping expert, however, Fernanda is THE shopping expert, and she didn't dedicate to it the usual eternity.
I really appreciated more the outside, the contrast with the quarter, and its light effects.
A small castle by Sena river was demolished under Napoleon's orders, creating a large square. In its centre was built a fountain, with a a central pillar topped by Victory's statue.
Nowadays, taking advantage of its central location, Chatelet is a very important transport hub, with the biggest underground station for train and metro.
Chatelet Les Halles is a large area in the centre of Paris, most renowned for the giant underground shopping centre, that also stretches to the streets! The church Saint Eustache is located in the area les halles, and it is also home to the Trade Office, as well as many restaurants and squares. There is also a 20 screen cinema, a swimming pool and just a lot of space to sit and chill...and have ice cream! I would recommend visiting this area for the fantastic shopping and delicious eateries!
The Theatre de Ville (once the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre) stands opposite the Theatre Musical de Paris (Th. Chatelet) with a matching facade but longer, and the Fountain du Palmier at the center of the Place. Away from the Seine, around the corner is a square with the Tour St.-Jacques. Somewhere nearby there is also a merry-go-round but they seem to move it each time I go by. (There is one near the Eiffel Tower that seems to stay put).
I was desperate to have a french tattoo and so asked everyone where to get one. Chatelet was the place! Although I haven't got my french tattoo (yet), it's a lively area; like Central Paris or something. This area is good to explore Parisian culture and the french lifestyle.
There are few meusems and parks within a walking distance but didn't bother to visit until a french guy grabbed me and showed me around,lol.
The Forum des Halles is an enormous underground shopping centre and hardl to avoid when walking around in this part of Paris. I am not really into shopping (yes, really!!), so normally I would avoid a place like this as much as possible. But, as the Forum les Halles is also known for having quite a few sculptures, fountains, and mosaics, I couldn't resist to stop by. But what a dumb choice that was! If I could redo my visit, I certainly wouldn't go here. Yes, I found some of the sculptures, but they were just a big disappointment.
In the first photo you can see the "Pygmalion" by Julio Silvia, located inside the Forum des Halles. This was one of the sculptures I was looking forward to see and my main reason to visit Les Halles. I really liked the sculpture, but I absolutely disliked the state it was in. The main part of the sculpture was covered in bird droppings, which didn't make this work of art look very appealing. In an attempt to capture some of the emotion of the sculpture I zoomed in quite a bit with my camera, resulting in this close-up photo. I am quite happy with the end result of the photo, but it does disguise the truth quite a bit. So my advice is: don’t visit Les Halles if you are not a fan of shopping! Although the sculptures look quite beautiful on photos, the lack of maintenance has destroyed quite a bit of their appeal.
It's just a short walk from the church of St.Merri to get to the Square the Innocents with its fountain of the 16th century called "Fontaine des Innocents". I found it quite interesting to read that this is actually not the original place of the fountain. The fountain used be located on the Rue Saint-Denis, beside the graveyard "cimetière des Saint-Innocents". As the graveyard needed more space, they decided to move the fountain to here in 1788. Nowadays it is the only Renaissance fountain left in Paris and I am glad that they kept it! It is quite nice to see. The fountain was designed in 1549 by Pierre Lescot and in decorated in 1550 by Jean Goujon with the prominent sculptures.
Each side of the fountain is a little roman arch, decorated on either side by two nymphs pouring water (see pic 2). Above the arches you can see some playfull little angels (pic 3).
Old beside new, a clash between architecture, styles and times..... The old church of St.Merri is located directly beside the fun creative fountain of the Place Igor Stravinsky. And as you can imagine it is a real clash in architecture between these two.
The history of the church St.Merri dates back to the 7th century to a previous church on this same location called St-Médéric ((St-Merri). The church you can see here now was completed in 1552, and is build in Gothic style. If you are interested in seeing the oldest bell in Paris (1331), this is the place to be. But otherwise, I would suggest skipping a visit here. It's a church, but not all that special in my eyes. There is so much to see and do in Paris, and the church of St.Merri didn't make it on my toplist. So better walk on and spend your precious time elsewhere.
For the ones that would like to take a look inside: the church is open to visitors daily from 15:00 - 19:00. The entrance of the church is on the other side from the Place Igor Stravinsky, so you have to walk around it a bit to get in.
The ones that know me a bit, know that I love street art, so the Place Igor Stravinsky was a must for me. Beside the Centre Georges Pompidou is a little square, aligned with some bars/restaurants. But in the middle is this totally crazy fountain. I really can't imagine how one can create a fountain like this, but fun it is! Even with the rain drizzling slightly from the sky, the colour of the 'sculptures' in the fountain were as vivid as ever. Water was sprouting out of heads and any other body parts that you can imagine. Well, what can I say.... hahaha, just look at the photos and form your own opinion. I thought it was a fun fountain to see. The fountain is the first modern fountain in Paris and was created by Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely.
I guess this would be best described as a 'tourist trap' and maybe should be published under 'warnings and dangers' as the main reason for going here never worked!! Le Défenseur du Temps is a fun clock, hidden away in the modern Quarter de L'Horloge and only a few steps away from the Centre Georges Pompidou. The clock is an interpretation of the 'defender of time' and supposed to have a 'show' every day at 2 o'clock and 6 o'clock. Well, this might be true if the clock worked, but it wasn't moving.... not even one minute! Quarter to one it was and quarter to one it stayed for quite some time. So after stirring at the motionless clock for a while we just gave up.
The mechanical sculptures wouldn't move today, and most likely not tomorrow either. No battles against the air, earth and water would show, no roaring sounds of earthquakes, storms or sea would play.... such a pity. It all sounded so fun and I really would have like to see this creation of Jaques Monastier at work. But his work seemed to be forgotten and neglected in this little alley of the Quarter de L'Horloge. All it functions for now is for gathering birdsh!t, as the clock was totally covered in it. For aesthetical reasons I cleaned it up a bit in the photo, hahaha, good that photoshop exists to make reality look a bit better at times ;-)
From the Marais we walked towards the west and entered into the areas also known as Beaubourg and Les Halles. I am not sure what to think of this part of Paris, I guess you love it or hate it. And I leaned more to the latter part then to the first. Although I did enjoy some features of it and it certainly could be called 'interesting'.
Beaubourg and Les Halles is a clash between modern and old, and I found it rather confusing. One moment I was standing in front of the modern architecture of the Centre Pompidou and a few steps later I was thrown back in time again, looking at the Fontaine des Innocents. But what drove me away from this area the most, was the more obvious poverty on the streets and neglect of the area. The shopping centre Les Halles for example, was once a pompous piece of architecture, but now it seemed to have had its best days. Ah well, I guess you get the drift by now: Beaubourg and Les Halles just didn't mesmerize me as much as the Marais did. But as I said it is 'interesting' and also lively, and therefore worth a visit. Hahaha, but in my case it would be a short one ;-)