Dancer’s dream trip to Paris

Published 11:02am Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Welcome to the second edition of our column highlighting the places Polk County residents have been or would like to go. For Valentine’s Day, France was on the list.

The Republic of France has changed some over time.

The franc is now the euro and “jet-setting” is done by TGV’s (train a grand vitesse/hi-speed train). But nothing stands out like Paris, “The City of Lights.”

It tops the list of the most romantic places in the world, next to Venice.

Days are filled with the most eclectic collection of art, mouthwatering baker’s delights and abundantly colorful strolls down gorgeous chestnut lined avenues. And at night, the Eiffel Tower illuminates the sky while revelers savor French cuisine, impeccable wine and a dazzling nightlife.

Paris’ first settlement was Ile de la Cite in the middle of the Seine River. The settlement spread to La Rive Gauche, and eventually the Louvre Palace was built, as well as the Cathedral of Notre Dame, where 9,000 people worshipped.

Europe’s oldest university, the Sorbonne, made Paris a crowded medieval city. Cultural life centered there until Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles because he felt the city was confined by the narrow streets.

The Champs-Elysees was the king’s processional route, a street that leads to L’Arc de Triomphe, a street made famous in Joni Mitchell’s song “Free Man In Paris.”

After the French Revolution, Napoleon built bridges, and opened new avenues, but it wasn’t until the 1850s when the real beauty and advancement of Paris was to be built with the Hausmann design, which straightened out the streets creating radiating patterns, allowing for parks, a railway station and a glittering opera house.

Among the many attractions, seeing a ballet at The Paris Opera House is still the ultimate ballerina’s dream.

The beautiful ceiling is painted by Chagall. Surrounding the balcony are gold leaf mouldings and a statuary of 19th century Paris.

Of all the public buildings in Paris, there is perhaps no other staircase where the public itself becomes the spectacle, the place to see and be seen – where for an evening, each spectator has his or her chance to become part of the procession up the winding staircase.

This is your chance to dress the part – and be a star for the night.

For boomers and beyond, I recommend independent style city tours or river cruises (especially Paris to the Heart of Normandy).

For young people, educational group tours and Contiki. Average pricing starts at about $1,399 without air, and includes meals, accommodations, transportation, entertainment and sightseeing. July is low season, but high for jazz, with 15 jazz festivals in France during that month alone.

“Where’ve You Been”

Who: Sonya Monts, Saluda, NC
Profession: Owner, The Dancer’s Extension, Saluda. She teaches ballet, jazz, contemporary and Zumba for adults. Her mission is to encourage healthy and balanced lifestyles through the art of dance.
Where Would You Go? “It would be easy to pick the one dream trip I would love to take my students on. That would be a tour of Paris with the highlight of seeing a ballet at The Paris Opera House.”
Would You Use a Travel Agent? “Mais bien sur, Lucianne. I would not feel comfortable making arrangements for a group over the Internet.”
Would Love… “They are doing the classic ballet Coppelia in March, for example.”
To Avoid… “Probably snails, ha, ha. Also, I would pack a less casual wardrobe because I’ve heard Europeans don’t wear jeans and sweats like we do.”

Please send in your travel recollections to the Tryon Daily Bulletin, care of Lucianne Evans, or by e-mail to

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