Third day in Paris


Opéra Garnier, Charles Garnier, completed 1875

Opulent or vulgar – take your pick. Built for Napoleon III, who was deposed and dead by the time it was inaugurated. How laughable it is now that sculpted bare female breasts were acceptable everywhere but a bit of leg was shocking.

The gallery is just overloaded:


and I hope never to see another musical allegory ever again. It can all be blamed on Garnier – he designed everything.

The Galeries Lafayette was more purely enjoyable:


and then there was the Musée Cognacq-Jay, which was yet another 18th century collection from the Belle Époque – this time by the founders of the Samaritaine department store


and housed in a restored and unrelated Marais mansion house from the 16th century:


I couldn’t manage any more rosy-cheeked Boucher beauties but instead focused on the porcelain, which was hideous but fascinating. The garish colours of the Sèvres pieces:


contrasted with the lauding of duty and thrift in bizarrely luxurious Meissen porcelain:


The housewife writing in her accounts book, 1756-58

Then a walk through the Place des Vosges


and on to Maxim’s to look at the art nouveau collection.

The day ended in the sumptuous surroundings of the Train Bleu (1901):


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