Paris Opera House
(Palais Garnier)

There has never been an opera house as extravagant and opulent as the Palais Garnier

Magnificent front facade of the Palais Garnier
Magnificent front facade of the Palais Garnier cc licensed photo by Peter Rivera

Palais Garnier is an opera house that was built to seat 1,979 guests. Construction started in 1861 and finished 14 years later in 1875. Originally called the Salle des Capucines, it was renamed Palais Garnier to celebrate its grandeur and its architect, Charles Garnier. Today it is mainly used to host ballet productions and is no longer the primary home of the Paris Opera since the Opera Bastille opened in 1989 with the ability to seat 2,700 guests.

Palais Garnier was the scene for the famous screenplay, The Phantom of the Opera, which was originally written by Gaston Leroux and later adapted to a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1986. This fact alone makes the Palais Garnier worth seeing if you have any love of opera and the stage.

Palais Garnier was commissioned as part of the reconstruction of Paris that was initiated by Emperor Napoleon III. The actual design of the opera house was created by Charles Garnier who won the architectural competition on May 29th 1861. The competition was in two phases. The first phase was out of 171 applicants which Charles won 5th place in narrowly becoming one of the 5 finalist competing for the second phase. In the second phase he improved greatly to first place while the winner of the first competition did worse. Charles Garnier's design was chosen for being the best and most simplistic, clear, logical and grandeur thanks to all the unique and superior qualities presented in his plans for the beautiful opera house. Garnier had to design a double foundation to accommodate the basement area because the ground water levels on the site were too high to allow the site to drain properly. This high level of ground water brought about a legend that the Palais Garnier was built on an underground lake, a concept used by Gaston Leroux in his novel and screenplay.

Palais Garnier is home to the world famous crystal and bronze chandelier that hangs in the centre or the Opera House. This massive chandelier's weight of seven tons and cost 30,000 gold francs. In 1896 one of the counterweights for the chandelier fell killing one of the workers. This very unfortunate accident was the result of the inspiration that Gaston Leroux used in his famous novel the Phantom of the Opera.

It took until 2011 for a restaurant to open and operate successfully in the Palais Garnier. Three previous attempts failed. The Palace didn't even have electricity installed until 1969. A restoration project was started in 1994 and only completed in 2007.

There has never been an opera house as extravagant and opulent as the Palais Garnier. Walking into the entrance hall and being confronted with the Grand Staircase made from solid white Italian marble is enough to astound even the most affluent visitors.

Nearby attraction: Musee Grevin

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: Yes - Free with the Paris Pass.

Address: 8 Rue Scribe, 75009 Paris, France

Phone: 01 71 25 24 23

Official Website: Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier)

Directions

Metro / RER Line Nearest Station Walking Time
M3, 7 or 8Opera1 minute
M9Chaussée d'Antin - La Fayette Station2 minutes
M12 or 14Madeleine9 minutes
RER AAuber 3 minutes

How to get to Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier) by Metro / RER

By Metro: Exiting Metro Line 3, 7 or 8 at Opera Station places you directly in front of Palais Garnier. From Metro Line 9 exit at Chaussée d'Antin - La Fayette and walk south on Rue Haievy to the entrance. From Metro Line 12 or 14 take the Place de la Madeleine exit from Madeleine Station Madeleine and walk straight ahead on Place de la Madeleine to Boulevard de la Madeleine and go left. Continue straight to the entrance of the Opera House.

By RER: Take the RER A to Auber Station; exit and go left along Rue Auber to the entrance (3 minutes).

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Reviews

Rated 4.7 out of 5

5 Star Rating The opulence of the Palais Garnier cannot be understated! The architecture and interior design is so incredible. The rotunda where the architect hid his name and the years of construction is very beautiful and cleverly hidden. We did not see a performance but purchased a guided tour and we were lucky to see the inside of the theatre (these guided tours do not guarantee entry into the theatre). This is in my top 3 places in our París vacation.

Danny Ray D - 18 hours ago

4 Star Rating The theatre is incredible. Beautiful architecture. Definitely worth seeing. We paid extra for nice seats that were not cheap. I got stuck behind a guy with a big head. Spent the whole time leaning to the right to see the performance. Our seats were in the first balcony straight in front of the stage 3rd row. Looking down towards the stage with a big person in front doesn't work. Performance was very good. 5 stars if I could have seen the stage.

SteveSmith - 2 days ago

5 Star Rating Stunning is the only word that comes to mind! The architecture and style will simply blow your mind, not to mention how immaculately preserved it is. The Opera house is still functional so maybe that helps in its upkeep and maintenance. The main staircase is art itself. Every corner of this magical place is a sight to behold. Definitely a must visit. We didn't have enough time or we would have certainly bought tickets for one of the shows. Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Conrad Egbert - 19 days ago

5 Star Rating We went to the opening night of the Balanchine/Teshagawa ballet here and it was a great show. It is a very intimate arena compare to Lincoln Center in NYC. I would definitely sit in the loge areas and bring binoculars. The place is majestic.

michael koon - 1 month ago

5 Star Rating We spent two weeks traveling through Europe and visiting all kinds of sites -- both modern and historical -- and Palais Garnier (the Paris Opera House) was our favorite. If you visit here, definitely sign up for a guided tour! The tour includes the orchestra section of the auditorium; you sir in the front orchestra while the tour guide speaks of that part of the tour. In contrast, if you do the self-guided tour, you can see the auditorium only from the Box level (two viewing boxes on either side of the auditorium, and the boxes are very crowded). If you do a self-guided tour, then get the audio headsets that help provide the history of the building and the individual rooms and their contents.

Vincent Sabio - 3 months ago

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Enjoy this video tour and discover some interesting facts about the Paris Opera House

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