Monday, March 30, 2015

Paris Day 3: Le château de Versailles, le Palais Garnier, Galeries Lafayette

Bonsoir ! C'est moi, Aurélie, et je vais vous partager des photos de mon dernier jour à Paris.

As you might remember, my parents and I spent a couple of days in Paris in February (Paris: Day 1 and Paris: Day 2). A little more than a month later, I'm getting around to posting about my third and final day in Paris. 

My parents and I woke up early to beat the crowds at le château de Versailles. This was my first time visiting the famed château in years. I had to have been at least 8 the last time I went. Sabine and I prefer le château de Fontainebleau, which is less-crowded and has more furnishings. I really don't enjoy big, pushy crowds, and is what makes Versailles uncomfortable for me. Regardless, it's still a beautiful example of France's history and symbolic of the Ancien Régime.

This château, built in the classical style beginning in 1632 under the reign of Louis XIII, was constructed in the Parisian suburb of Versailles, which was formerly a countryside village. Louis XIII thought the location would make the château the perfect spot for all of the royal hunts. However, when Louis XIV, the roi-soleil, became king, he expanded the château into a palace. Although the most famous inhabitants are Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Louis XIV's influence remains. 


His most famous contribution would have to be the Galerie des Glaces- or the Hall of Mirrors.




Here's the King's bedchamber:

The Queen's bedchamber:

The gardens (which we really didn't get to explore due to the weather):


 Back of the palace, as seen from the gardens:

After Versailles, I was fortunate enough to visit my favorite place in all of Paris...maybe even in all of France! Any guesses as to what that is?

That would be the Palais Garnier (or Opéra Garnier), home of the Opéra National de Paris, the ballet, the orchestra, and formerly the ballet school (which relocated to its own building in Nanterre in 1983). 

The Opéra was one of Napoléon III's contributions to France. Architect Charles Garnier designed it, and it was completed in 1875.

Dancing for the ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris is my dream and has been since I was a little girl. It's a dream that, with hard work, I hope that I can someday fulfill. Auditioning for the company if you didn't attend their ballet school isn't easy, and being chosen is a 1 in a million thing. I hope I can be that one in a million. Ophélie Ducatel, an acquaintance of Sandrine's in a weird way that I don't quite understand, attended the Paris Opera Ballet School. She began dancing for the company last year when, thanks to the concours annuel (the school's internal competition to dance for the company), she was chosen to become apart of the quadrilles. It is the Paris Opera Ballet's lowest ranking and corps du ballet. However, with the talent that Ophélie has, she will surely be promoted and climb the ranks in no time. She's 17 years old and already dances professionally. It's something I dream of. ILudmila Pagliero can become one of the company's étoiles without having attended the Paris Opera Ballet School, so can I. I believe in myself and all of my hard work. 

Here are some of the gorgeous displays in the gift shop window:


I decided to pose under one of the beautiful arches. 

Of course, I got an obligatory photo by the grand staircase!



The grand foyer is equally as beautiful:



Just look at the paintings on the ceiling of one of the wings:

Here's the library:

We were allowed to enter one of these doors, and guess what?

Although the balcony was covered with a velvet tent, I was able to take a peek of the stage thanks to a plastic window. The dancers were rehearsing, and I stayed and watched for a good half hour...before my parents dragged me out, that is. I have seen plenty of ballets here, but I just can't get enough...even if it is just a rehearsal. I snuck a quick cell phone pic of the theater for you guys. Sabine is definitely rubbing off on me because this is nothing I'd normally do. I'm not really a rule-breaker. 

After that, we decided to walk across the street and do some much-needed shopping. My parents took some quick photos of me in Galeries Lafayette, one of Paris's famed grand department stores. Isn't the dome lovely?


On our way to the Musée d'Orsay, I had my parents take a photo of me by the Louvre's pyramids. Sadly, I don't have any photos from the d'Orsay because our phones died and the memory card in the camera was full. However, it is great museum worth checking out. It is an old train station that now houses impressionist paintings.  

Alors, that concludes my trip to Paris. I hope you enjoyed the photos, and thanks for letting me share them with you. Have you ever been to Paris? If not, do you plan on going? What is your favorite Parisian landmark?

Bisous,
Aurélie

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bienvenue chez les ch'tis!

Salut, tout le monde! C'est Sabine et j'ai une nouvelle série « posts » (anglicisme, pas de traduction) à vous parteger. Oui, je sais que cette série est en retard... 

First off, I've been blogging for HOW LONG?! I have a new series of posts for you, dear readers, that is way overdue. I'm going to introduce you to our hometown, Lille. I don't really know where to begin, but I'm going to begin somewhere. I think that starting with centre ville seems okay.

Here is the Gare de Lille Flandres, one of the "entrances" to my beautiful city. Until the Gare de Lille Europe (which is very modern and doesn't quite fit in with the Vieux-Lille quartier) opened in 1993, this was Lille's only train station. It was completed in 1892, and the station front was the original front of Paris's Gare du Nord. The two stations are literally across the street from each other...I know, I don't get it, either.

If you exit from the front and head straight for the Grand'Place (formally known as la Place du Général-de-Gaulle, which was named such after World War II in honor of one great Lillois), here is what you'll see: unique, Flemish architecture (which Lille is full of). Lille is a "transition city" in the sense that it is French, yet, it prepares you for the architecture you'd see in Belgium or the Netherlands. 

So, what will you find in the Grand'Place?





In the photo above, I'm actually standing on the staircase of the Théâtre du Nord, built in the 1780's. This is where you go to have all of your theatrical and dramatic needs met. I've seen several plays here- ranging from Molière's comedies to comedies that make no sense whatsoever (I'm talking about Ionesco's La cantatrice chauve...)!

The most famous building would have to be the Vieille Bourse, or the Old Stock Exchange. This building was built in the 1650s, when Lille was part of Flandres (Lille wasn't apart of France until Louis XIV, the roi-soleil, laid siege to it in 1668). 

Today, the inside courtyard boasts an awesome flea market...

Any guesses as to which posters I bought?

Here is some of the original detailing:


We also have the central office building for La Voix du Nord, the regional newspaper:


Do you notice anything in the background of these photos?



That would be the beffroi- or belfry- linked to the Town Hall. Although it was built in 1932, making it quite modern compared to the rest of Lille, it is a symbol of the city as well as apart of my region.
The architecture fits in with the Flemish style, so it blends in quite nicely. Actually, until I researched it myself, I thought it was centuries older than it actually is! The old town hall was destroyed in World War I. 

So, what's that pretty building next to the Town Hall? That would be the neoclassical Opéra de Lille! The original opera burned down in 1903, so the construction of this one began in 1907. However, World War I caused some delays in construction, and it wasn't completed until 1923. Doesn't it resemble the Palais Garnier (which Aurélie is going to write a post on) in Paris?

If I stand on the steps of the Opera, I get a beautiful view of the square.


I'm going to end this post by talking about the magnificent streets of Vieux-Lille, where I like to do some serious shopping. Vieux-Lille is where I live, and it is the more Flemish part of Lille.

I don't shop here, but Sandrine and Aurélie wanted me to post photos of the Repetto store where they shop for their leotards and other ballet stuff. The tutu that is on display totally reminds me of Aurélie; what do you think? 


Rue de la Clef is definitely one of my favorite streets to walk down. I mean, what's not to love about this street?! 

Just look at this fleuriste! My family loves to get their flowers from here. 

In good fashion, you'll see a sign in both French and Flemish.

So, dear readers, that was the first glimpse into our lovely hometown. I'm sorry that it's way overdue. I hope you've enjoyed the photos, and I will say, there are plenty more to come! I am proud of who I am and where I came from. I might whine about the weather sometimes, but there is no place I'd rather be from. I'm a "ch'ti" and proud of it. 

Are you proud of where you came from?

A tout!
~Sabine

(PS: If you have any questions about Lille for me, please feel free to ask in the comments section! I'll answer them in my next post.)