We went on a tour of the Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier) and I was blown away. I haven’t been in a theatre that beautiful before. And I’ve been in some stunning theatres. Although it’s important to keep in mind that at the time the Opera House was built it wasn’t about seeing the opera, it was about being seen AT the opera.
The Palais Garnier was commissioned by Napoleon III in 1861, and was completed in 1875. It was designed by Charles Garnier, and seats 2,013 people, with many of the seats being private boxes.
One of the most stunning things about the auditorium was the contrast of the ceiling by Marc Chagall with the heavy gilding and detailed 7 ton chandelier. Chagall did the ceiling in 1964 to cover the old one by Jules Lenepvue (which was preserved intact). It’s one of the largest stages in the world (the largest in Europe) and I would have loved a chance to run around on it; perhaps giving my female Hamlet.
The Palais Garnier is the setting for the Phantom of the Opera, and in 1869 the chain holding up the massive chandelier snapped killing one audience member. And while I didn’t see any ghosts, it was easy to imagine Christine Daae running around up and down the many beautiful staircases.
Today the Palais Garnier is used primarily for ballet.
Corner of Rues Scribe and Auber. 75009 Paris. Tickets cost 10€ and students get a discount.