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 A must see destination for when you're in Paris. The architecture and the overall atmosphere is captivating. Make sure to check out Phantom of the Opera's lodge and the exhibition on older stage sets. Pay attention to little things like door knobs or the mosaics on the floor as you walk around!

Deniz Bilgin - 1 day ago

5 Star Rating Everything we could have hoped for and more. I've been on some awful, boring tours at some incredibly interesting places before, but the tour here was amazing. The guide was funny, energetic, knowledgeable, and had a true passion for history and making the place come alive as you walk through it. 100/100 I would do this every time I came to Paris.

James Freihofer - 24 days ago

5 Star Rating Definitely worth purchasing tickets for the experience. The architecture is amazing! The cheaper seats are not that bad. Operas and ballets are not for everyone though (you might feel bored if you're not into it), and you might want to avoid bringing young children to those.

Aryel Tupinambá - 30 days ago

5 Star Rating My wife and I have walked past the Palais Garnier many times and never went inside and on a recent trip we decided that we should check it out. Great decision! The entrance is to the left of the building (when facing the building upon exiting the Metro station) and we got there at 10am (opening time). Tickets were 10€ each and since there were no organised tours at the time, we got two audio guides for 5€ each, which can be set to one of many languages. The audio guide was brilliant and also uses some videos to explain certain sections of the building. It took us about 90 minutes to negotiate our way around the Palais Garnier and every section was different to the next and absolutely stunning in terms of art, design and architecture. Can not emphasise enough as to how beautiful the rooms and halls are; you have to see it for yourself! Since we arrived at opening time, there weren't many people looking around, so it afforded us perfect photo opportunities. The audio guide is very informative and we found out about the origins of the Phantom of the Opera story (based here!) and came across the cabin he occupied (albeit fictionally). The Palais Garnier shop on the ground floor has lots of lovely souvenirs, relative to the building. Wonderful place to visit with your partner, children or even by yourself. Will definitely revisit on our next trip to Paris. Enjoy!

AL S - 1 month ago

5 Star Rating An AMAZING destination both inside and out. This place is an opulence overload in a tasteful way. Beautifully crafted detailing throughout, made even more spectacular if you're able to catch a show or performance here. If your a fan of the arts, culture or historical architecture, you're guaranteed to fall in love with this place. It's one of a few places I consistently frequent when in Paris, and each time is as though it was the first. It's truly a magical destination

Titus Anglesmith - 5 months ago

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

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