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 5Palais Garnier Star Rating

5 Star Rating The opera house is absolutely amazing! If you're here to admire the architecture, you won't be disappointed as it's truly spectacular! The carvings and decor is breathtaking!! Very, very impressive and going up and down the main stairs is so satisfying as you would feel so grand, like a super star! If you're here for the shows, the stage is just impressive! I've never seen such a huge stage with so much depth and height!! There's just so much to love about this historic place!! The one criticism I have is that the signage is so bad. We walked around the building twice because we couldn't work out where the entrance to the box office was located! As it turns out, a show was on so it wasn't open! Also if you do get in, do note that there are three different queues; first counter is if you want to book a guided tour, second counter if you want to pay by card for a self guided tour, and the last counter is to pay by cash. You would have to walk past the first counter to go deeper in before seeing the second counter.. and the same before you get to the third. If you didn't know you would be wasting your time in the wrong queue.

Adrian Lunsong - 3 days ago

5 Star Rating What a stunning and magical place! I saw the Ballet which was excellent. But the building! Absolutely unbelievable. It is dripping in gold and decadence. Truly a relic of an earlier time. Well worth visiting. Don't miss the statues of famous French Baroque composers (and some non- Frenchmen who became famous in Paris) in the entry lobby.

Suzanne Long - 5 days ago

5 Star Rating Easily one of the most spectacular and awe inspiring buildings in Paris! With its over the top everything, one can’t help but understand why France had a couple of revolutions to reestablish a better distribution of wealth. It’s absolutely amazing and beautiful in every way

David M - 6 days ago

5 Star Rating If you visit Paris and you cannot make it to Versailles, this is at least as beautiful as it gets if you don't have too much time either. This opera house is a lovely place to take a walk through and see some of the most beautiful interior in richly decorated Baroque style. If you have seen "Smurfs 2" you might also recognize the interior of the main auditorium. Typical of many of these beautiful old buildings in Paris, you feel like going back in time when you visit a place like this. I was also glad to be able to take a few nice photos there. Thank you, city of Paris!

Mister Morne Van der Berg - 18 days ago

5 Star Rating Totally in love with this opera theater which remains the most beautiful in the world for me. Please make sure to visit it inside, with a guided tour or simply come for a show. However, some places (even those which cost €35-50) may have quite limited visibility, so double check this while booking.

Photographer in Paris Eugénie - 19 days ago

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

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