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)

Map of nearby accommodations: Booking.com

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 5Palais Garnier Star Rating

5 Star Rating The Palais Garnier Opera House is a beautiful building designed by Charles Garnier between 1862 and 1875. He borrowed from both classical and baroque architectural styles to construct this opulent and majestic opera house. The Grand staircase and Grand Foyer are well worth spending time viewing. Both are rather remarkable and make good reason to arrive well in advance of your intended performance, allowing you plenty of time to enjoy these splendours beforehand. Picture taking of these rooms is allowed so bring your camera. Needless to say, the auditorium area itself is lovely as well and makes for an ideal venue for ballet performances. Note of the lovely chandelier, designed by Garnier, hanging in the auditorium, set before an interesting choice of ceiling paintings, added by Russian Marc Chagall 1964. Overall, we very much enjoyed watching a ballet performance here and exploring both the inside and outside of the famous opera house on a couple of occasions during visits to Paris.

BradJill Travels - 18 hours ago

5 Star Rating Beautiful place to visit. A lot of history. You kind of get that spokey vibe here. I would highly recommend doing a group tour, we didn’t have the chance to because it was close to closing time. But if you have the chance I highly recommend doing it. Next time when we are back we will be doing the tour!

Lady Von Barber - 4 days ago

5 Star Rating Magnificent Place. Did a day tour and a night tour (a year later). Day tour did not do any justice because there were just so many people around. It was easy to get distracted (day tour) because we had to navigate between other people but with night tour we had the place to ourselves and the tour guide spent time explaining a lot of the history of the place. Night tour might cost a bit more bit the ambience feels totally different.

Mark Kram - 11 days ago

4 Star Rating Exceptionally beautiful Opera House. Did the self-guided tour. Dropped a star because the auditorium was closed off the day I went and it's not made inexplicably clear on the website when that could be so it's kind of a luck thing.

Jazmin Jackson - 21 days ago

5 Star Rating Stunning! I was blown away by the ornate architecture inside. Highly recommend the guided tour - gives you the chance to go to the lower seating section and sit in those chairs. A wonderful building, can be done within 2 hours. Best : even open on Mondays!

Dhriti Nadir - 1 month ago

Video


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

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