Opera Garnier, Paris, France: photo and description, excursions, top tips before you visit

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Opera Garnier, Paris, France: photo and description, excursions, top tips before you visit
Opera Garnier, Paris, France: photo and description, excursions, top tips before you visit

The Opera Garnier in Paris, France is the thirteenth theater to house a French opera since King Louis XIV founded it in the late 1660s. The opulent theater was commissioned by Napoleon III as part of the great Paris renovation project and was named after the architect Charles Garnier.

The palace was inaugurated on January 5, 1875, took fifteen years to complete, and today it is known by various names such as the National Opera of Paris, the Palais Garnier and the Opéra Garnier. Ballet performances are now one of its main focuses, as most operas are performed at the new Paris Opera Bastille.

Historical landmarks of the World Heritage Site

Emperor Napoleon III
Emperor Napoleon III

A true masterpiece of the Second French Empire and Haussmann of Paris, the Opera Garnier in Paris was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III, who tried to satisfythe demands of high society for a great and vibrant theatre. Napoleon, after surviving an attack in the cramped old street theater Le Pelletier, decided that the time had come for a new theater that would not only be safer, but also strengthen the international prestige of France, demonstrating it to the whole world.

Before construction, a competition was held. To everyone's surprise, it was won by the young and unknown Charles Garnier, despite the fact that such famous modern architects as Fleury, the architect of Paris, and Viollet-le-Duc, the favorite of the Empress, took part in it. The construction of the Opera Garnier in Paris (France) began in 1860 and lasted 15 years.

Architect Charles Garnier
Architect Charles Garnier

In developing this monumental masterpiece, Charles Garnier drew his inspiration from the best achievements of the architecture of the past, and at the same time, the Palace was different from everything that existed in the world at that time. The stunning façade reflects the wide range of materials used, evoking a sense of wonder. He noticeably distinguished the building from the dull, typically gray monochrome urban monuments. Upon entering, it is difficult to understand which artistic concept is the main one, there is a place for everything: bas-reliefs, candelabra, statues, numerous baroque ornaments, columns, and, of course, luxurious mineral decorations.

Honey roof. It is widely known that bees collect honey on the roof of the palace. Over 300 kg of honey is produced annually and can be purchased at the outlet gift shop.

The history of the Opera Garnier in Paris is full of legends. few touristsknow that under the building there is a hidden artificial lake. While building the foundation, Charles Garnier encountered swampy and unstable terrain, in order to solve this problem, a special "pond" was created filled with water, providing impermeability and stability, which could be used as a fire reservoir.

There is a legend associated with this pond about the famous opera ghost. It says that the young man lived for many years near the lake, eating only fish, which can be found there to this day. After his death, he began to appear in the palace in the form of a ghost. Gaston Leroux based on this legend in 1909 wrote his famous novel The Phantom of the Opera.

Little known facts about the Paris Opera

1681, The Ballet Opera opened its doors to female dancers for the first time.

1847, Giuseppe Verdi wrote his first grandiose opera Sisalem for the Royal Academy of Music. Verdi has always had an ambiguous relationship with the Paris Opera, never turning down commissions but constantly complaining about the demands placed on what he called "La Grande boutique."

On January 14, 1858, when Napoleon III arrived at the Opera in his carriage, Italian anarchists, hired by Felice Orsini, threw bombs into the crowd. The emperor and his wife miraculously escaped, but as a result of the explosion, eight people died and almost five hundred were injured. The next day, the emperor decided to build a new opera house.

October 28-29, 1873 Salle Le Peletier burned down due to a fire that raged for more than twenty-four hours, reasonsit is still unknown. The opera was forced to move to the Salle Ventadour until the new Opéra Garnier in Paris was renovated.

1982, considering that the scale of the Palace is insufficient, President François Mitterrand decided to build a new modern opera house in Paris. A competition was organized in which 1,700 architects participated, submitting a total of 756 designs.

Grand opening of the Bastille Opera
Grand opening of the Bastille Opera

On July 13, 1989, the Bastille Opera was inaugurated in celebration of the bicentenary of the French Revolution.

1990, The Palais and the Bastille Opera are merged into the Paris Opera. The first opera performance in the new building took place in March - "Trojans" by Hector Berlioz, staged by Luigi Pizzi under the baton of the musical director of the Paris Opera, Men-Wun Chung. The first season of the Bastille Opera began in September of the same year.

1994, The Opera Garnier in Paris received the status of National. The name change signaled his intention to expand beyond the capital.

Architectural features of the Palace

After a renovation in 2000, the historic façade of the Opera House looks just as impressive as it did in the 19th century, with its original rich colors and golden statues. One of the most famous features of the palace is the main staircase, which was built from marble of different colors, and at the foot are two bronze statues.

Great Staircase
Great Staircase

The main staircase is an impressive 30 meters and leads to the foyer, to the various levels of the auditorium andRotonde de l'Empereur in the western pavilion, which houses the library and museum of the Musee de l'Opera. The empire fell and Napoleon died before the Palais Garnier was completed, so the Rotunda was never finished and the covered stone blocks can still be seen as they were in the 1870s.

Large and beautifully decorated, the foyers provide a place to relax between performances, while Avant's foyer is decorated with delightful mosaics in rich colors against a golden background and offers a magnificent view of the Grand Staircase. Charles Garnier wanted the Grand Foyer to resemble the gallery of a classical castle, with its enormous dimensions of 18 m high and 54 x 13 m in area. towards the Louvre Museum.

Salon du Glacier is located at the end of the bar gallery with its light and airy rotunda, with a ceiling decorated with paintings by the artist Georges Jules-Victor Clarin, as well as tapestries illustrating various drinks - tea, coffee and champagne, as well as episodes of fishing and hunting.

A large hall of impressive dimensions: 20 m high, 32 m deep, 31 m wide, decorated in the shape of a horseshoe in red and bronze tones, with more than 1900 velvet seats, and illuminated by an extremely large crystal chandelier, weighing 8 tons. It is placed under the ceiling, decorated by Marc Chagall. The work was completed in 1964 by order of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

In 2011, a modern-style restaurant was built on the territory of the opera, which, althoughwas placed behind glass between the columns, but is considered by many to be the destroyer of the monument's original architecture.

Fast route to l'Opéra

Fast track to l'Opera
Fast track to l'Opera

Opéra Garnier is located on Place l'Opéra in Paris, the symbol of the Second French Empire. Baron Haussmann designed the square to showcase the breathtaking view of the majestic opera house. It is located in the 9th arrondissement at the corner of Scribe and Rue Auber.

Before you get inside the Opera Garnier in Paris, you can use public or private transport. If you travel around Paris by metro, you need to get off at the Opera stop on lines 3, 7 and 8. You can use the bus number 20, 27, 29, 42, 53, 66, 81 or 95. For owners of their own cars, there is car park but it's a bit further from the building.

Visiting the Palais Garnier Opera

The Opera Garnier in Paris is a fully functioning theater for opera, ballet and other types of shows, such as those intended for children. You can book tickets online on the official website. In addition, there are tour companies in Paris that offer special visit packages.

There are special programs for wheelchair users. In order to use them, you must contact the public relations service two weeks before the show to reserve a seat. The service includes individual access via a special lift and equipped front seats.

The theater holds performancesfor people with hearing impairments through a special headset in real time. The service is currently only available in French and must also be booked in advance. Ticket prices range from €15 to €150 per seat, depending on view and location.

Palais Garnier tours

Guided tours of the Palais Garnier
Guided tours of the Palais Garnier

In Paris, you can visit the Palais Garnier and admire its beauty, even without participating in watching the performances. This can be done both with a guide and individually. Favorite objects of the city's guests are also the Opera Museum or the National Library of the Paris Opera. Here you can learn more about the history of the building, see models of old stage sets, costumes, and historical photos of the Opera Garnier Paris.

On normal days, the visiting time is from 10 am to 5 pm, but from mid-July to the end of August they are extended until 6 pm. However, there are days when visits are closed, such as during French national holidays or when a special event is organized.

The regular price for a single ticket is 11 euros, there is a reduced rate of 6 euros for those under 25 years old, and children under 10 years old can enter for free. It's a good idea to save your entry ticket as you can get a discounted ticket for the Musée Gustave Moreau and Musee d'Orsay within one week of purchasing it.

Tours at the National Opera of Paris are conducted in French or English, their duration is 90 minutes, which includes a total visit to the theater withpresentation of the history of the Palais Garnier and its architecture. Guided tours in other languages are held on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and during school holidays and in high summer they are held every day. Regular entrance fee including guided tour is €13.50, reduced rates for children over 10 and students are €6.50, but reservations for groups must be made in advance.

Tour with audio guide

Tours at the opera
Tours at the opera

For an independent visit to the Palais Garnier, it is recommended to go on an excursion with an audio guide. It will help you learn more about the building, with stories, documents and lesser-known secrets. The audio guide highlights the features to make sure you get the most out of your Palais Garnier tour.

A few things to know before going on a guided audio tour:

  1. The audio guide device costs an additional €5, on top of the entry fee, but is much cheaper than the guided tour.
  2. Audio guide tour runs for 1 hour.
  3. You need to make sure you have 5-7 euros in cash for the audio guide first, as the counter only accepts cash.
  4. You must leave an official photo ID as a deposit when purchasing the headset.
  5. The audio guide is multilingual and available in many languages.

All you need to know about visiting Palais Garnier

The palace is open all days of the week:

  • from September 10 to July 15 - from 10:00 to 16:30;
  • from 15 July to 10 September - from 10:00 to 17:30;
  • The Palace remains closed on January 1st and May 1st.

The cash desk closes 30 minutes before the end of the specified hour.

What to see in the palace

Begin to explore the palace from the exterior, it is recommended to go around the entire structure, examining all the elements from a close distance. Every inch of the building is a work of art, especially the façade. To get a good view of it, first visit the front steps, and then go further along the avenue de l'Opera. The top of the main façade is adorned with golden statues symbolizing harmony and poetry.

The Grand Staircase of the Opéra Garnier in Paris is a real world "podium" where couples demonstrate not only the latest fashion, but also their fortune. It has always been so, both in the past and today. There's plenty of room upstairs to chat while keeping an eye on who's coming up the stairs and what they're wearing.

The famous Chagall ceiling
The famous Chagall ceiling

There are many interesting details in the design of the auditorium, but the main highlight is the famous Chagall ceiling and an 8-ton chandelier fixed on it. Chagall's masterpiece was painted only in 1965, replacing several other paintings.

The highlight of a visit to the Opéra Garnier
The highlight of a visit to the Opéra Garnier

Without a doubt, the highlight of a visit to the Opéra Garnier is the Grand Foyer. This huge hall with a height of 18 meters, a length of 154 and a width of 13 meters was originally designed for relaxation, communication and important business meetings, specially located outside the highest paying places.

Immediately behind it you can breathe in the fresh Parisian air and admire the beautiful view from the balcony. You can imagine how the opera feltspectators sipping champagne here as the whole city watched them from below. In the immediate vicinity of the Great Hall there are sunbathing rooms, which is interesting in them - these are "mirrors of infinity". Another must-see is the colorful Glacier Salon rotunda, which is full of paintings and sculptures paying tribute to celebrities.

Opera Garnier reviews in Paris

Once you've made the decision to visit the Paris Opera, it's best to listen to advice covering various aspects such as when to come, what to wear and expect to make the most of your visit to this beautiful and historic place.

Once your tickets are booked, follow these tips:

  1. Be aware that almost all performances are performed in the original language, so there will be very few performances in English and French, and mostly in Italian, but with French sub titles. Some performances have sub titles in English, which will be indicated additionally in the information on the website. If these languages are not acceptable, it is better to consider choosing a ballet where the language is not so important.
  2. Before visiting, get acquainted with the information: "More about the performance" on the special web page of the Paris Opera to learn about the composer and performers, the history of the performance and watch its video clips.
  3. For people with disabilities, please contact the theater for accessibility information and to book the appropriate ticket.
  4. Arrive at the opera 30-45 minutes early to be able towalk around the beautiful building.
  5. Don't be shy about taking opera glasses or small binoculars with you. This can be very useful if the location is far from the stage.

Staging program

repertoire programs
repertoire programs

The production programs are not free, but quite well thought out and make a good souvenir, they have a full description of the Opéra Garnier in Paris. They usually cost around 12 euros and can be purchased from the building next to the main staircase.

Before the show starts, a rather loud bell rings, indicating that it's time to go to your seats at the start of the show or after breaks. Keep in mind that helpers may not let latecomers in if they feel that they will disturb other visitors.

Before entering the hall, it is good to visit the nearest restroom, as women will have to wait a long time during intermissions. After the viewer climbs the stairs, he will see signs above the entrances to the auditorium doors on each floor with the designation of seating areas. However, if there are location problems, show the ticket to the nearest assistant and he or she can help.

Giving sentries at the Opera in Paris Garnier is not accepted and prohibited in public institutions such as the Palais Garnier, but they are allowed in private ones. It is not allowed to drink, smoke or use mobile phones in the hall. For those who want to have a drink during the break, this can be done in a small bar, a glass of champagne costs about 12 euros. It is forbidden to take photos of the Opera Garnier in the hallParis or video recordings during performances, otherwise you can.

Formal dress code

Formal dress code
Formal dress code

Dress code for gala events at the Opera is usually "black". For men, this means a tuxedo, traditional black or navy blue, and for women, a cocktail or evening dress. Nevertheless, recently women come in trousers or skirts, but others perceive this without enthusiasm. People tend to dress more conservatively in Paris than in Russia, minimizing exposed areas, avoiding bright colors and opting for a hem line that falls below the knee. A simple black evening dress and black shoes are always a great option.

At the performance at the Palais Garnier, dressing is somewhat simpler, there are practically no visitors in dresses and tuxedos. Even strict suits are not so common, although the viewer in this form is normally perceived in this place. For women, a dress, blouse/skirt, or blouse/nice trousers will do. For men, a shirt, nice trousers and good shoes will do. Unacceptable clothing style - sneakers, sneakers, tennis shoes, shorts and jeans and something like that. Think about the shoes and hosiery you'll need to achieve dress code idyll.

After the performance

When returning home by metro, you need to cross the road from the entrance to the Opera metro stop. The Paris metro stops at 1:15 and later on Saturdays. If you need an option for a gala dinner after an opera performance, you can visit recentlyopened restaurant L'Opera, which is located in the Palais Garnier. It is open before and after most performances and can be booked online.

After visiting the Opera Garnier in Paris, according to tourists, you can visit other restaurants located within walking distance: the famous cafe La Paix (12, Capuchin Boulevard), Grand Cafe Capucines (4, Capuchin Boulevard), Café Drouant (18, Rue Gaillon), La Fontaine Gaillon (1, rue Gaillon), Lucas Cardboard (9, Place de la Madeleine), "New Balal" (25, Rue Taitbout) and "Absinthe" (24, Place du Marche Saint- Honore).

Note, Paris is not Moscow, and many restaurants don't open too late. Sometimes they won't accept seat reservations until after 21:00 or 21:30, so it's helpful to find out when the show ends. Usually from 9:30 pm to 11:00 pm, so that you can choose a restaurant and make the appropriate reservation.

Good news for tourists: they can go to the Grand Opera in Paris Garnier for free on the first Sunday of every month, but be aware that this is the most crowded day of the month.