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 4.5 out of 5

5 Star Rating The Palais Garnier is divine and one of the most famous opera/ballet house in the world, a symbol of Paris just like Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre. Amazing architectural gem in Baroque Revival style will take your breath away and transforms you into 18th Century. Must visit while in Paris!

Malinka Max - 3 days ago

5 Star Rating A stunning venue to watch opera and ballet. The most opulent theatre in the world, stunning architecture. View from the balcone was superb (note is not a balcony as such, is a raised section at back of stalls). One thing to look out for is the interesting seat numbering...odd numbers to stage right, even to stage left (ie if you have seats 111 and 112, they are not together, they are on opposite sides of the auditorium).

Gav Wilson - 1 month ago

4 Star Rating I love this place so much. The architecture and immense effort that went into this ornate structure is mind-blowing and amazing, however, I think that the large painting around the chandelier in the auditorium takes away from the beauty of this. It only obscures the original painting, which was better than the current one, so why did it have to cover it?

Nathan Freundl - 1 month ago

5 Star Rating We attended the Palais Garnier for a performance of Tree of Codes. The the seating in the "cheap seats" are very tight. If you are a taller person, you might want to purchase better seats to avoid your knees being pressed into the back of the person in front of you. With that in mind, the building is absolutely spectacular. The lobby is a magnificent work of art. My wife and I spent 30 minutes just standing at the railing of the higher level admiring the architecture and paintings on the ceiling. It is something to see!

John Baker - 4 months ago

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