Millions of people walk past the Opera Garnier, a symbol of Paris near the busy Saint Lazare train station and the famous Galleries Lafayette. Many will admire the beautiful building and its statues. But only a few will discover its beauty from the inside.
I grew up near Paris, and my train to the city would end at Saint Lazare station. Like many people, I loved looking at the beautiful Opera Garnier that was on my way. But it’s only when I came back from Australia for a visit that I found out the Opera was open for visitors.
Visiting this gem in the heart of Paris seems to be a little secret.
We went there during the weekend and we didn’t even have to queue for a ticket!
I don’t understand why there weren’t more visitors. I stopped counting my “Wows!” early in the visit when we reached the grandiose Grand Staircase. Although it is made of sober white marble, I was overwhelmed by the number of small details everywhere. I was happy to spend the visit with a friend. We would share with each other’s what we were looking at, and she spotted many details I wouldn’t have seen (and vice versa). We scanned the building from the floor to the ceiling.
The Opera slowly revealed itself with the intensity of colours increasing from one room to another.
I loved the sneak peek we had at the auditorium. As visitors come and go, technicians work to prepare the next production on what was once the largest stage in Europe. The red velvet seats combined with the golden pillars and balconies are very stylish. It must be so special to attend a show there! Again, the number of details was unbelievable.
The ceiling was a fascinating part of the room. Some won’t stop admiring the famous, controversial painting by Marc Chagall that was added one hundred years after the construction. The multiple colours and the touches of white in the 240 m² painting contrast with the warm colours of the rest of the venue. I was more captivated by the imposing seven-ton bronze and crystal chandelier. To put it into perspective, it is as high as a two-storey house (8m)!
I let you imagine my eyes when we then entered the Grand Foyer with its ten chandeliers. Although they weren’t as impressive as the ones in the venue, they gave a lot of character to this spectacular place full of stunning sculptures, paintings, vases and fireplaces with clocks. It is 18 meters high, 154 meters long and 13 meters wide! You suddenly feel like you are visiting a castle. It reminded me of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.
The Opera Garnier is the most beautiful venue I have ever visited. If you live near Paris or plan to visit Paris, I highly recommend adding it to your to-do list. It’s the best 11 euros I spent during my last trip to Paris and one of the best things to do in Paris on a rainy day.
I didn’t organise my visit to the Opera Garnier, but a guided tour could have been a great option to learn more about the history and the features. Click here to view tours that can be booked online*.
Have you ever visited the Opera Garnier? Or would you like to? I’d love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment below!
Where is the Opera Garnier?
The Opera Garnier is at the limit of the 2nd and the 9th Parisian districts. It is a busy area with many luxurious hotels and shops, like the Galleries Lafayette.
It is very easy to access as there is a metro station right in front of the Opera (lines 3, 7 and 8). Many buses would stop there too. It’s only a short walk from the main Saint Lazare station.
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