Nestled into one of the prettiest parts of Paris, on the corner of the Palais-Royal and the famous terrace of the restaurant Le Nemours, this beautiful theater dates back to 1790, and since 1799, it’s been home to the oldest active theater company in the world, La Comédie Française.
This prestigious company created by Louis XIV back in 1680 is the only French state theater to have a permanent acting troupe. The pieces performed also undergo a rigorous screening process, so needless to say, the performances here are of the highest level. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets to a show in this 862-seat salle, you won’t be disappointed.
Roughly twelve different pieces are performed each season, with daily performances from September to July, incorporating a mix of different styles and genres, although all are performed in French and without surtitles.
But the exceptional plays and actors aren’t the only reasons to go, so even if you don’t speak French, the Comédie Française is worth seeing. The building is absolutely breathtaking inside. It’s everything you’d want a French theater to be: a grand staircase, opulent chandeliers, beautiful paintings covering the ceilings, gold gilding everywhere, and of course those rich, red velvet seats.
Sitting in the seats, you can’t help but think of all those who sat there before you throughout the centuries, imagining the elegant Parisians of the early 19th century arriving in their carriages and wondering how the women in their hoop skirts could have possibly fit in the chairs.
The Comédie Française offers guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 11am from September through July, so if you can’t get tickets to a show, you can still see inside this Parisian gem and learn more about the theater. The 90-minute tours are for ages 10 and up, with tickets costing 12€ for adults.