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As you might have noticed, the decor around here has changed. Christmas is almost upon us! (I don’t actually celebrate Christmas, but I highly enjoy festivities of any kind, especially when they make for gorgeous pictures. If somebody wants to point me in the direction of Chanukah cheer, I’d be all over it.)

Anyway, yesterday after a blessedly short and easy trip to the BnF (for anyone just tuning in, that’s Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and the post I wrote about it merited a “godforsaken country” tag), I met up with my friend Lizzie at Opéra. Honestly, even without Christmas, the Palais Garnier is one of the most festive places in Paris. All of that gold leafing and statuary, and plenty of expensive shopping and eating in the vicinity–it always lifts my spirits, especially on a perfect winter day like yesterday. Let’s take another look at it, shall we?

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Except yesterday the sky was perfectly blue and there were more tourists around than I’d seen in one place in a while. But that might have been partially because of the proximity of the Galéries Lafayette, the biggest department store in Paris.

I had been planning on going there to hunt for a new audition dress anyway, so Lizzie and I gritted our teeth and braved the crowds. Really, it was all worth it for the window displays…of which I have no pictures because there just wasn’t ROOM. But they really are spectacular–the theme is “Rock ‘n’ Mode” (Rock and Fashion, instead of Rock and Roll, I guess), and all of the windows are full of elaborate musician marionettes playing instruments and singing, techie marionettes setting up the lights and sound systems, groupie marionettes screaming and reaching out to their idols. What was especially cool was that it was all in motion the whole time, and not all in the same way. There was a guitar-playing marionette that really did look like he was strumming a guitar, and a tambourine-playing one that was actually shaking that tambourine. Amazing. I may have to go back and take some pictures during the week, when things are less manic.

We almost decided not to go in, but then I said, “Pourquoi pas?” Why not? It was a zoo in there, hot and intensely perfumed, but it is also truly stunning.

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(I’m pretty sure the ceiling was pointed out to me the first time I came to the Galéries, but I wasn’t interested at thirteen. Grandpa, that ceiling is something else!)

And then we looked at clothes. Lizzie and I agreed that sometimes we are enthralled by French fashion and other times we look at a garment and say, “What were they thinking?!” But the Galéries are just so enormous that beautiful, expensive clothes outweigh the lesser stuff. I have kind of bipolar taste in clothing at the moment; I vacillate between high sophistication and total twee (thanks, Tom and Lorenzo, for providing me with fashion vocabulary!). That is to say, while I love a beautiful shift dress in a solid color that makes me look like a grown-up…I also have a penchant for floaty dresses with baby animals printed all over them. C’est la vie.

After that we both needed some refreshment, so we went to Haagen Dazs, where they are serious about only giving you one scoop…and then charging you 4.50 for it. But as Lizzie pointed out, it did come in a lovely little glass dish with a mini-cone on top. We sat and chatted for so long that by the time we left, I was hungry again, so we went on a mission to find Juji-Yu, the Japanese fast food place I had stumbled across last week. Find it we did, but not after quite a few wrong turns and false starts, not to mention two different maps.

Outside the entrance to the RER A at Auber, there was a woman singing the Seguidilla from Carmen, rather badly, with a backing track. I had to come home and listen to Agnes Baltsa, who may be my favorite Carmen despite her truly bizarre vocalisms. Oh well.


Today’s plans include making a serious dent in the last two hundred pages of The Pickwick Papers. I hit a bit of a slow patch in the middle there, and it’s been a bit of a slog, though still an entertaining slog. But I am quite determined–finishing this book is my pre-New Year’s Resolution.

Also, my apologies in advance to whoever reads this copy after me, for the croissant crumbs in between pages 594 and 595. Je suis désolée!

Bisous,
Anne

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