4 Must-Sees and 1 No-See During A Paris Opera House Tour

During a tour of Paris, the Opera House, also known as the Opéra de Paris, the Opera Garnier and the Opera Paris is a must-see.

The Paris Opera House captures the imagination of those actually visiting or those on a virtual tour of:

  • sites related to Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera
  • famous opera houses of the world
  • the City of Paris, France.

Find out what many consider to be the highlights of a Paris Opera House tour.

Read to Discover a Paris Opera House Tour:

  • The Grand FoyerThe Grand Foyer
  • The Grand StaircaseThe Grand Staircase
  • The Front FaçadeThe Front Façade
  • The Famous ChandelierThe Famous Chandelier
  • Under the StageUnder the Stage

Listen to Opera Music Online:

Nei giardin del bello” from Act II of Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi conducted by Myron Yusypovych.

The opera Don Carlos is considered to be one of the greatest of French grand operas. It was commissioned and produced by the Opera Paris and performed in French from 1867 to 1869 at the Opera House in France. The original libretto was written in French by Joseph Méry (1797 – 1866) and completed by Camille du Locle (1832 – 1903). Later versions of the opera were translated and performed in Italian. The above audio clip is the Italian version of the original French five act grand opera.


4. The Spectacular Grand Foyer – A Must-See on a Paris Opera House Tour

Paris Opera House Grand Foyer
Paris Opera House Grand Foyer

A Paris Opera House tour features many highlights for the visitor to see. But, the most spectacular sight at the Opera Paris by far is the Grand Foyer.

The measurements of the Paris Opera House Grand Foyer are:

  • 18 metres (about 59 feet) in height, which is the approximate height of a contemporary six story building
  • 54 metres (about 60 yards) in length, which is half the length of an American football field
  • 13 metres (about 43 feet) in width, which is slightly narrower than the width of the NBA basketball court and the same width as a basketball court in a high-school.

The Grand Foyer of the Opera Paris is designed in the style of a classical French chateau (palace) with mirrors, chandeliers and grand windows and is indeed a tour highlight.


3. A Focal Point of a Paris Opera House Tour – The Grand Staircase

Paris Opera House Grand Staircase
Paris Opera House Grand Staircase

The grand staircase at the Opera Paris, France is one of the most memorable attractions. Staircases are meant for people to be able to walk between floors. But, Grand Staircases are much more than simply functional. Grand staircases are indicators of grandeur and wealth. Lovers of movies will remember the grand staircases of the Titanic or Hogwarts Staircase in Harry Potter.

The Grand Staircase at the Paris Opera House from the bottom portion up to the upper levels of the auditorium is 30 metres (almost 100 feet) high. This is the approximate equivalent of a 10 story building. You might want to climb the length of the grand staircase during your Paris Opera House tour. On the other hand, you might not! After all, the Paris Opera House building has a total of over 17 stories.

The Grand Staircase at the Opera Paris, France has a middle staircase that leads to the central foyer and the auditorium. Side staircases branch out to the right and left of the Grand Foyer and join the upper levels of the audience auditorium.

The Grand Staircase at the Paris Opera House is an example of what is called architectural polychromy. Polychrome is the use of several colours when designing and executing architectural details. However, instead of using paint, the polychrome effect on the Grand Staircase at the Opera Paris, France is achieved through the use of various colours of marble.


2. The Front Façade of The Opera in Paris, France

Gare du Nord and Paris Opera Front Façade
Gare du Nord and Paris Opera Front Façade

Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918), a famous French composer, once said that the Paris Opéra “looks like a railway station”. Indeed, some experts claim to see a resemblance of styles when they compare the Opera Paris to the Gare du Nord (the main train station in Paris, France).

Compare photographs of the front façade view of the Opera Paris and the Gare du Nord in Paris, France and decide for yourself. Are they similar as Claude Debussy claimed?

Interestingly, Claude Debussy was born in 1862. Construction of the train station in Paris was begun in 1862. And, construction of the Opera Paris was also begun in 1862!

Compare the Front Façade of the Opera Paris, France and the Opera Lviv, Ukraine


1. The Famous Chandelier of the Opera House in Paris, France

Paris Opera House Chandelier
Paris Opera House Chandelier

In 1909-10, Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux (1868 – 1927), a French journalist and writer, wrote and published a serialized gothic novel – The Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l’Opéra). In this work of fiction, Leroux included a scene where the Opera Paris House chandelier crashes into the audience.

Just over 10 years earlier, in 1896, while Leroux was working as a reporter in France, there had been a real accident at the Opera Paris. It was reported in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro on Friday, May 22, 1896. (A new window will open) The article entitled “L’accident de l’opéra” was written by a staff writer, not by Gaston Leroux.

Many sources currently available in print and on the internet discuss the famous chandelier falling scene. Frequently, they claim that a counterweight from the chandelier fell and killed a worker (some sources claim this worker was a concierge). In fact, a closer reading of the newspaper article presents a slightly different picture.

The historical truth, is that neither the Grand Chandelier nor parts of it fell. Instead, what did fall was a counterweight for the copper reflector. This counterweight had been installed in the original design just above the Grand Chandelier. This counterweight killed Madame Chaumeil, a member of the audience.

Madame Chaumeil had attended the theater that fateful evening with her daughter Henriette. Their tickets had been a gift from some musicians. According to her husband, Madame Chaumeil did not like the theatre. But, since her daughter’s friend was unavailable that evening, the mother had consented to attending, meeting her untimely death.

The truth, at The Opera Paris, France is no less dramatic than the fiction!

Compare the Central Chandelier at the Opera Paris and the Opera Lviv


0. The One Thing You Won’t Be Able To See at The Opera in Paris, France

Under the Stage at Paris Opera House
Under the Stage at Paris Opera House

Fans of The Phantom of the Opera often wonder about whether there really is an underground lake beneath the Opera Paris in France.

And, indeed there is. Unfortunately, tours of the Opera House don’t allow visitors down into the bottom basements. At one time, there was a video of the underground water filled chambers posted on YouTube. After a short time, it was taken down and never replaced!

For those who are interested, the initial design of the Paris Opera House did not take the existence of the lake into account. The underground lake was discovered only after construction began. As a result, the architectural plans had to be altered and a stone reservoir built to hold the underground waters.

Today, architects claim that the water level in the lake under the Opera House in Paris, France acts as a ballast. A ballast is used to provide stability to a structure. The pressure from the water in the tank stabilizes the building and prevents any additional water from rising up through the building’s foundation.

Interestingly, another opera house was built using the knowledge gained from the Opera House in Paris.


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