While beautiful from the outside and takes up Place de l’Opera, it is worth taking the guided tour of the Paris Opera (Palais Garnier) to see the inside. On the tour you’ll get in-depth information about its creation and see parts of the building you wouldn’t ordinarily see if you attended a performance.
Guided Tour Of The Paris Opera
With special headphones for each person on the tour, it was very easy to hear what the tour guide was saying about the history of the Opera. Charles Garnier started building the Opera in 1861 at the request of Napoleon III.
During the construction, a pond was found underneath the foundation and it took almost a year for it to be drained. And in the late 1800s, part of an enormous chandelier fell, killing a one person. Author Gaston Leroux used these as inspiration for his famous story, The Phantom of the Opera. The story and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical of the same name have certainly made the Palais Garnier even more famous.
It was one of the most expensive buildings to be built and it was completed in 1875. Electrical lighting was installed in 1881. Up until then gas lighting was used. The opera house was originally called Salle des Capucines but became known as the Palais Garnier, named after the architect.
The Highlights Of The Palais Garnier
One of the most impressive sites is the ceiling in the auditorium. It was painted in 1964 by Marc Chagall. There is still controversy about the painting and whether it is appropriate for its surroundings. In addition to the Grand Foyer (first photo), the chandeliers, sculptures, and other areas of the opera house are equally magnificent.
Marc Chagall’s Painting On The Ceiling
The Grand Escalier (Staircase)
Chandelier (one of many)
The Grand Foyer Ceiling
Ceiling Above The Grand Escalier
The “Other” Opera House
In 1989 another opera house was constructed. It was called the Opera Bastille and is located at Place de la Bastille. This is now the location for operas. Palais Garnier is primarily used for ballet performances. Between 1994 and 2007 major renovations were made on the Palais Garnier to modernize the stage and reinforce the structure and foundation.
The architecture is stunning and the guided tour of the Paris Opera is well worth the 14.5 Euros. Check out my post about booking tours in advance for more information.
Check out more “Top 100 Experiences In France“.