Home to the Opera de Paris, ballet performances, and the fictional Phantom of the Opera, the grand 19th-century Opera Garnier—also known as Palais Garnier—recalls the splendor of France’s Second Empire, an era synonymous with elegance and extravagance. Beyond its opulent exterior and foyer, the 2,000-seat auditorium is a riot of red velvet, gold, and bronze, with a massive chandelier and a colorful ceiling painting by modernist master Marc Chagall.
With its gilding, grandeur, and lavish ornamentation, Opera Garnier is often compared to the Palace of Versailles. While you can admire architect Charles Garnier’s Beaux-Arts and neo-baroque masterpiece from the outside on Paris sightseeing tours, it’s also possible to see the interior by attending a performance or taking a self-guided audio tour or a guided tour of the venue. Book an after-hours tour to explore the Opera Garnier without the crowds. You can also combine a tour of Opera Garnier with visits to other nearby architectural gems, such as the historic Galeries Lafayette department store and the passages couverts (covered shopping galleries).
Things to Know Before You Go
- The on-site restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The bar inside the theater sells drinks before performances and during intermissions.
- Operas are usually performed in their original language, with French (and sometimes English) supertitles.
- While no official dress code is enforced for regular performances, most operagoers dress smartly. For special gala events, attendees wear more formal attire.
How to Get There
Palais Garnier is in the Opera and Grand Boulevards area, one of Paris’ shopping hotspots. The Opera station, just across the street from the venue, can be accessed by Metro lines 3, 7, and 8, while lines 7 and 9 serve the nearby Chaussee d’Antin–La Fayette station. Alternatively, take the RER A line to Auber station.
When to Get There
Opera Garnier tours are held daily throughout the year and attract the biggest numbers during summer. To escape the crowds, book an after-hours tour, which allows you to traverse quiet corridors and the hushed auditorium without the daytime crowds. Note that access to the auditorium is dependent on availability; for the best chance of seeing it, opt for a morning tour, as rehearsals typically take place in the afternoon.
Highlights of the Palais Interior
The interior’s standout features are the fresco- and gold-adorned Grand Foyer, the bronze Pythonisse sculpture, and the imposing Grand Staircase (Grand Escalier). Auditorium highlights include the 2,600-square-foot (241-square-meter) ceiling painting by Marc Chagall, in the center of which hangs an enormous, seven-ton crystal and bronze chandelier that inspired the dramatic chandelier drop in Gaston Leroux’s “Phantom of the Opera.”