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To say that the interiors of the Palais Garnier are rich would be a huge understatement. Walking into this exquisite opera house, you’ll quickly get swept up in the luxury of it all, especially if you’re lucky enough to attend an opera or ballet here. Even if you don’t have tickets for a show, you can tour the monument during the day, and it’s absolutely worth it.
The architecture and décor of Paris’s Palais Garnier are at least as dramatic as the performances it hosts. Built by Charles Garnier in the late 1800s during Haussmann’s renovation of Paris, the opera house stands out as a superb example of the Napoleon III style. Drawing on an eclectic and extravagant mix of architectural influences, every inch of the Opéra is covered with elegant textures, one-of-a-kind artworks, and gold. Lots of gold.
Entering by the side, at the corner of Rue Auber and Rue Scribe, you first pass through a dimly-lit, marble-covered rotunda, the Rotonde des Abonnés. A few steps through the moody Bassin de la Pythie and you arrive at the magnificent Grand Staircase. There’s so much to take in here, from opulent candelabras to incredibly detailed bas-reliefs. You could easily spend an hour or two in this space, enjoying the warm glow of the dramatic lighting while you contemplate the architecture from every angle.
Up the sumptuous stairs awaits the nearly 2000-seat auditorium. Depending on the rehearsal schedule, you may or may not be able to visit this space, but you can almost always get a quick peek to see the stage and admire the ceiling which was painted by Chagall. You can also peer into the Phantom of the Opera’s box, loge 5, to see if the famous ghost is there.
In addition to the theater itself, the mezzanine also offers access to several impressive rooms and galleries. Just opposite the auditorium lies the Avant-Foyer, offering exceptional views of the Grand Staircase and leading into the glittering Grand Foyer. Lined with ornate mirrors and chandeliers, the Grand Foyer feels fit for royalty. Wander through this expansive space and out onto the small terrace to look out over Paris, then pass through the silver and gold Salon du Soleil on your way to the Rotunde du Glacier, a beautiful Belle Époque salon.
The rich, warm atmosphere of the Opéra Garnier make it the perfect place to visit on a cold or rainy day. Purchase your tickets online ahead of time on the opera’s website or directly at the ticket counter, but be sure to check their site for any exceptional closings. Tickets are 14€, or 12€ when there are no temporary exhibitions, and visits are free for children under 12.