January 6, 2023
Touring the Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France
One of the world’s most renowned opera houses is the legendary Palais Garnier in Paris. Commonly known as the Paris Opera or the Opera Garnier, the landmark 19th-century complex houses an opulent auditorium, gilded public spaces, a library-museum, rehearsal studios, costume workshops, a gourmet restaurant and an underground reservoir that inspired Gaston Leroux’s haunting novel The Phantom of the Opera (1910).
As integral to the Parisian cultural landscape as Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower, the Palais Garnier is a lavish monument to French culture that reflects the rich history and prestige of the Paris Opera, founded by Louis XIV in 1669 as the Academie d’Opera. Upon request, Artisans of Leisure can incorporate private tours of the Palais Garnier and tickets to performances for travelers on any of our private luxury France tours.
The Palais Garnier opened in 1875 as part of Napoleon III’s vast public works program that overhauled much of the architecture and layout French capital. Its name derives from its architect, Charles Garnier, who won the competition to design a new opera house. Employing elements of Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical styles executed in stone, marble and gold, Garnier created a no-expenses-spared masterpiece of Second Empire architecture and design.
The opera house’s palatial scale and interiors act an immersive work of art that transports theatergoers before a performance even begins.
Highlights of privately touring the Palais Garnier include the Grand Staircase, a magnificent double staircase that leads to the Grand Foyer. This spectacular space evokes the Palace of Versailles with gilding, chandeliers and mirrors. One of the primary public spaces of the opera house, the Grand Foyer acted as a drawing room for Parisian society in the 19th century.
Another highlight is the red-and-gold auditorium with Marc Chagall’s exuberant ceiling painting that celebrates various composers (added in the 1960s), the trompe l’oeil painted curtain and the famous seven-ton chandelier designed by Garnier.
We also recommend visiting the Library-Museum, a museum dedicated to the history of the Paris Opera in a part of the Garnier that was originally Napoleon III’s private entrance. On display are paintings, costumes, model sets, posters, administrative archives and more.
Upon request, we can arrange an exclusive after-hours tour of the Palais Garnier, including spaces not open to the public, such as backstage areas, the costume design workshops and the subterranean cistern that inspired The Phantom of the Opera, made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of Leroux’s novel.
For interested travelers, we can also arrange tickets to opera, ballet and classical music performances at the Palais Garnier. In the late 1980s, the Paris Opera moved to a modern opera house, the Opera Bastille, and stages most of its operas there. Artisans of Leisure can arrange tickets to performances at either venue.
Contact Artisans of Leisure to begin planning a private luxury France tour that includes privately touring favorite places in Paris like the Palais Garnier.