The Palais Garnier, home to the Paris Opera Ballet, is one of the world’s most beautiful places to attend a ballet performance. It is almost as exciting to visit the building during the ballet off-season when it is open to the public to enjoy all its majesty. Of course, I highly recommend putting attending a ballet here on your bucket list. There are no bad seats in the house, although I am partial to the boxes on the mezzanine since they have both great views of the stage and the Chagall ceiling. Guided tours are available, or you can go at your own pace.
My favorite part of the building is the famous ceiling in the theater painted by Marc Chagall. The ceiling was unveiled to the public on September 23, 1964. Daphnis et Chloe was the production being performed that night and I am sure that more than one patron skipped some of the viewing of the ballet by staring at the ceiling. Chagall captured all that encompasses the ballet and opera, depicting his figures and landscapes as whimsical figures.
The grand staircase flanked by bronze torchères is overwhelmingly beautiful. It’s impossible to walk on these treads without imagining the ladies and gentlemen of the past waltzing up to their boxes in all their finery. Crinoline skirts and tuxedos have gone by the wayside, but still appear for opening nights and special occasions.
The bottom floor contains dioramas that show off the handiwork of the seamstresses who design and sew the costumes for the ballet and operas performed here.
Box seats at the ballet are lined in gorgeous fabric with heavy velvet draperies and offer bird’s-eye views of the performances below. The front of the boxes are ornate gold and are illuminated by the seven ton crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
Of course no visit would be complete without a stop in the gift shop for a souvenir. They have everything from masks to coffee table books and replica ballet costumes. They also have some of the best postcards in town. As with most museums, the exit makes it so you have to walk through the gift shop. I usually get annoyed at this obvious ploy to sell merchandise, but in this case, I loved seeing the ballerina paraphernalia.
Palais Garnier: at the corner of rue Scribe and rue Auber,
Métro: Opéra, lines 3, 7, 8
RER: line A, station Auber
Bus : lines 20, 21, 22, 27, 29, 42,
52, 53, 66, 6 8, 81, 95
Car park:: Place Vendôme
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