Paris: Mysteries of the Opera Garnier After Hours Tour
- Duration: 1.5 hours
Charles Garnier created an opulent cathedral for the bourgeois when his opera house was finished in 1875, and it quickly became about more than just the performances. Here's how the architect made being seen as important as the seeing itself!
Napoleon III wanted Paris' archaic streets to reflect the glory of the French Empire. To do this, he hired Baron Haussmann to tear much of the city down and rebuild from scratch.
After surviving an assassination attempt outside the previous opera house, Napoleon III announced a competition to design one for Paris' new, less-secluded streets.
In creating such a spectacular foyer, adorned with marble, mosaics, and chandeliers, Garnier was setting aside as much space for socializing as for the performances themselves!
While the simplistic yet grandiose design was commended, few knew for what style it was aiming. When the Empress Eugénie asked, Garnier replied, "Why Ma'am, in Napoleon Trois!"
The cupola that crowns the opera house is a "false dome." It covers another, the space between which can retract the grand 7-ton chandelier hanging over the auditorium!
The Palais Garnier is open for visitors to wander around or take a tour from 10:00AM to 5:00PM most days. Due to performances and rehearsals, however, some access may be limited. You can check for exceptional closure information at visitepalaisgarnier.fr.
The Palais Garnier is located outside the Metro stop Opéra on lines 3, 7, and 8. It can also be reached via numerous bus routes: 20, 21, 22, 27, 29, 42, 52, 53, 66, 68, 81, and 95.
The price was reasonable and we enjoyed our tour. The ticket stated "Please present your voucher at the guided tours counter in order to redeem your *entrance tickets*, you will then be directed to your guide." -then it says- "Due to the security check at the *entrance*, we advise you to arrive 30 to 45 minutes prior to the time of the departure." - we thought that meant you had to exchange the voucher for your ticket BEFORE ENTERING. You need to go thru security FIRST and ENTER the building. Then get in line to exchange the voucher for your ticket. We keep looking around the outside of the building for a ticket window (duh). Hate to see what that entrance line looks like in the summer. Also you give them your ID of choice to get a headset. To get the ID back you have to give the head set back at the end. I don't think they sanitize the headsets. We were asked put them back into the zip lock baggy they came in -after the tour- and hand them back to the guide. Gross! Bring hand wipes.
The bus ride was super with a very detailed audio, I had a problem getting a bus stop but as soon as i go the local partner on chat they quickly directed me to the next stop and I hoped in, also make sure when you alight you have your 1 hr cruise tickets, i did not pick mine but got them again through the help of the chat services, if you love the Paris night lights take a booking that later in the evening.
The tour through the extraordinary Opera Garnier was both entertaining and informative. The guide was interesting and engaged the group by asking questions. The building is an amazing spectacle in terms of architecture and decor. It is a example of how opulent life was, in that era.
You have to obtain the guided tour to truly appreciate the beautiful opera hall. Laura was very knowledgeable and answered all of our questions. I highly recommend using Get your Guide services.
Our guide Tania was excellent, relaxed, informative and most pleasant. There were too many groups viewing at the same time making it difficult a bit uncomfortable.