Monday 26 December 2016

Boxing Day

Hope that you have all had a happy seasonal holiday whether you celebrated or not
A gift of a pen and ink drawing by one of our granddaughters
and hanging hooks made for us by our grandson
A brisk walk in the winter sunshine followed by an easy meal of leftovers from Christmas Day. Tomorrow we shall be on our own again, but lots of clearing up to keep us busy - take care♡

Sunday 11 December 2016

Palais Garnier

The Dance - Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux
The Paris Opera House was commissioned by Napoleon lll in 1861 and designed by Charles Garnier, but its inauguration in 1875 was too late for Napoleon who had died two years previously 
In the frieze E for Emperor N for Napoleon
Designed in the very popular Beaux Arts style of the time, it symbolised the opulence of the Second Empire. The exterior is one of the impressive landmarks in Paris with an interior of grand chandeliers, sweeping marble staircases and gilt decoration. 
Garnier designed a private turnaround carriageway at the back of the building for Napoleon. He could have arrive securely, leave his carriage to await his return, and come and go as he wished.
 The 'Bassin de la Pythie' is situated below the Grand Staircase. Pythia was a high priestess at the Temple of Apollo, Delphi on the slopes of Mount Parnassus - this theatrical entrance flanked on each side by a grand sweeping stairway gives a taste of things to come
The double sided Grand Staircase is made from white Cararra marble with a red and green marble balustrade leading up to the Auditorium and the Grand Foyer
At the top of the stairs is a beautiful marble arcade which has some exquisite Venetian mosaic work within the arches
At the centre is a vaulted ceiling showing paintings by artist Isadore Pils of Apollo, Minerva, and Orpheus.
two images courtesy wiki 

The inauguration in 1875
This sumptuous, breath taking, gilded Grand Foyer, was modelled on the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. The domed ceiling was painted by Paul Baudry to represent various moments in the history of music
A close up of the fine details at the bases of the gilt columns
All of the small side foyers are individually decorated, each one having a different but very striking ceiling.

With the opening of Opéra Bastille in 1989 the Palais Garnier lost its role as the main opera house in Paris. It is now the principal home of ballet although it still does host some opera
In 1960 the French Minister of Cultural Affairs, André Malraux controversially commissioned Marc Chagall to repaint the ceiling in the auditorium. Rather than destroy the original painting by Jules-Eugène Lenepveu, Chagall painted his canvass on a removable frame. Twenty years later, however, the original painting by Lenepveu was removed to the Musée d'Orsay where it is now on display.
Chagall's painting celebrates the music of both opera and ballet by 14 different composers. At its centre is the grand chandelier made of bronze and weighing a staggering 7 tonnes.

Wednesday 7 December 2016


We have just been away for a few days escaping the hurly burly that is Christmas

to a hotel that holds a special affection for us, and is just a short coastal headland walk to St. Ives 
Alternatively you can take a little train that trundles along below the footpath every hour to
St. Ives
Silvanus Trevail was the architect of The Carbis Bay Hotel built in 1894. He was a prominent Cornish architect who rose to become Mayor of Truro and nationally, President of the architects' professional body, the Society of Architects.
The hotel was immortalised by the author Rosamunde Pilcher when it was featured as The Sands Hotel in her novels 'The Shell Seekers' and 'Winter Solstice'.
Although the hotel has changed over the years it still retains much of its character and houses a wonderful very large original oil painting by Sir Claude Francis Barry - as a young painter he studied first with the Newlyn School of realist painters and then under Alfred Bast with the St. Ives group of painters 
St. Ives - painted in 1910 - Claude Francis Barry
He was known for his great love of colour and for developing his style continuously during his lifetime
We left home in typically December weather only to discover warmer, sunnier climes had blown in to Cornwall from the continent. It is this special light that attracted the colonies of famous painters to Newlyn and St.Ives at the end of the c19th.

The late afternoon sun is slipping away rapidly - time to hasten back over the headland for our eagerly anticipated evening meal
 This is not an advert or recommendation for the hotel, it is simply a place that we know and love
 A Christmas thought
Why have we allowed ourselves to be manipulated into thinking that Christmas needs weeks of preparation and shopping?
When I was small Christmas arrived hardly more than a week before the event. On the morning of Christmas Eve our turkey would be delivered from the farm along with a box of fruit and vegetables, and father would go out into the garden with his spade and dig up our Christmas tree. Myself and siblings would spend the afternoon decorating the tree, and then just before we climbed the stairs to bed, the lights would be ceremoniously switched on, filling us all with great excitement and anticipation.

Friday 2 December 2016

La Défense

 via wiki
Looking from the Arc de Triomphe along the Champs-Elysées in a westerly direction La Grande Arche de la Défense is clearly visible from the city 
The Grande Arche and esplanade stand at the heart of La Défense which is Europe's largest built business district filled with acres of glass and steel buildings.

Charles de Gaulle was responsible for leading an effort to level this area and concentrate skyscrappers in a single district rather than altering the character of downtown Paris by filling it with large commercial properties.

Each of the buildings tells a story about the architectural trends that were in vogue at the time of their construction. La Défense now gives us an interesting overview of this most recent period in our history of architecture

La Défense is considered a good and very much cheaper option for a place to stay in Paris. It has wonderful views across Paris which are particularly dramatic at night - there are lots of very good quality restaurants selling food from around the globe - a huge shopping mall - cinema - museum - church; it also has excellent quick train links that will whisk you straight into the city center, easily take you out to the interesting suburbs of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, or even take you for a day out to Versailles