Insiders Guide to the
Paris Opera Houses

There Are Two Opera Houses in Paris –
Each a Stunning Example of Period Architecture

Opera has long been a part of Parisian life. In fact, the first Paris Opera house was founded by Louis XIV in 1669.

Since then there have been no fewer than thirteen buildings that have housed the Paris opera.

But the most famous of all the Paris opera houses is still standing. Palais Garnier, located on Place de l'Opera in the 9th Arrondissenent, was built on the command of Napoleon III during the massive Parisian reconstruction overseen by Baron Haussmann in the second half of the 19th century.

Palais Garnier immediately became the center of Paris cultural life during the Belle-Époque of the late 19th and early 20th century. It continued on as France's most prestigious opera house right through the World Wars and into the 1960s.

In 1989, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille, a new (and über-modern) Paris opera house was built across town at Place de la Bastille. Most Paris operas are now staged in this bigger venue while Palais Garnier continues to be used for ballet and other types of performances.

If you've dreamed about attending an opera or ballet in one of the magnificent opera houses of Paris, be sure to book your tickets well in advance. It's surprisingly easy to buy tickets online, making it simple for you to have the experience of a lifetime!

Majestic Palais Garnier

The Building that Inspired The Phantom of the Opera!

Palais Garnier

The stunning Palais Garnier, the oldest of the two opera houses in Paris (and former home of Opera de Paris), sits majestically on the place that bears its name.

The 1861 design competition for a new opera house was won by a then unknown 35-year-old architect, Charles Garnier. It took fifteen years to build and was finally inaugurated on January 5, 1875. Among Parisians the new opera house quickly became known as Opera Garnier and, later, as Palais Garnier.

In 2000 Palais Garnier received a facelift, and its facade was restored to its original finishes and grandeur. Today you can take in the magnificence of this Beaux Art building on an unguided visit of Palais Garnier.

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  • Here's a guided tour of Opera Garnier and the surrounding neighborhood — Learn More… »

Opera de la Bastille

The New Home of Opera de Paris

Opera Bastille

It was French President Mitterrand's idea to build a modern home for the Opera de Paris on a historical landmark — the site of the Bastille prison, famous for being destroyed during the French Revolution.

A design competition attracted 756 entries with the award going to another unknown architect, born in Uruguay and living in Canada — Carlos Ott. His vision was a modern building with walls of glass. The building has been praised for its cutting edge design, its backstage facilities, and for giving each of the 2700 seats an unrestricted view of the stage.

L'Opéra de la Bastille was inaugurated on the 200th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and is now the official home of the Opera de Paris.

More Paris Opera Fun Facts

Even Marie Antoinette had an opera house built for her, Theatre de la Porte Saint-Martin, in 1781 after the former home of the Paris Opera company burned down.

Charles Garnier's opera house took so long to build due to frequent interruptions like the Pruss-Franco war of 1870, the fall of the Empire and the Paris Commune!

Palais Garner was originally named Salle des Capucines after the boulevard is located on.

Palais Garnier immediately became the center of Paris cultural life during the Belle-Époque of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It continued on as France's most prestigious opera house right through the World Wars and into the 1960s.

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