My 5:30 a.m. departure from Bordeaux allowed me an opportunity to take one last photo of the Grand Theatre de Bordeaux, which opened in 1780. Royal architect Victor Lewis conceived the theatre as a temple of arts and light and succeeded in making it one of Europe’s most magnificent venues. The 12 statues above the Corinthian-style columns represent nine muses and three goddesses — Juno, Venus, and Minerva. Inside, the focal point is a grand marble staircase leading to an elegant auditorium that holds more than 1,100 people. Home of the Bordeaux National Opera and its ballet company, the building is also open for guided tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays. But it would be a shame to miss a live performance which adds even more "joie de vivre" to a Bordeaux visit. Be sure to have dinner or a glass of wine at the Café Opera inside the theatre. A two-course, pre-fixed menu is available prior to performances with service that assures you will be in your seat when the curtain rises.