|The Ceiling of the Palais Garnier by Marc Chagall|
Our hotel was situated near Opéra - a great area for shopping and sightseeing. Hotel Lavoisier http://www.hotellavoisier.com has 4 stars, friendly staff and comfortable rooms.
'Le Palais Garnier' completed in 1875 is the thirteenth theatre to house the Paris Opera and was built on the orders of Napoleon III as part of the great Parisian reconstruction project carried out by Baron Haussmann. We had pre-booked a guided tour in English of the theatre which lasted 1.5 hours - you can take a self guided tour but access is limited to certain areas. www.operadeparis.fr
There is an excellent restaurant situated in the Palais Garnier, it's very popular with the Parisians at lunchtime - we managed to get a table but you can make reservations here www.opera-restaurant.fr . Make sure you visit the restrooms and see if you can work out how to turn the taps on!
You will find the big name department stores - Galeries Lafayette and Printemps in this area, they are both worth a visit - their window displays at Christmas certainly draw the crowds.
We headed over to the Jardin de Palais Royal later that day to visit two of my favourite shops - Epice and Pellini. Épice http://www.epice.com/fr/ sells beautiful scarves, bags and cardigans while Pellini has a gorgeous selection of unusual resin jewellery. The staff in both of these shops were really helpful and friendly - don't believe all you hear about snooty French sales assistants.
A bientôt, Rebecca.