The Paris Opera
An understanding of the opera and theatre scene in France is incomplete without knowledge about the Paris Opera. This is the principal opera and ballet company of France and has been running since 1669 when it was established by Louis XIV. Back then it was named ad Academie d’Opera and was under the leadership of Jean Baptiste Lully…locals now simply refer to the group as Opera.
The art of classical ballet was born here and it inspired ballet performances and productions all across the world. Its operas and concerts command international audiences, massive media coverage and are named as great works of art that have made Paris into what it is today. The company runs its concerts, operas and ballets in two gorgeous venues mainly; the Palais Garnier and the Opera Bastille…both of which are huge attractions in their own right.
If your priority is seeing a first class production in a prestigious venue then there is really no better option than the Paris Opera. If you plan on watching multiple performances then taking the “Champ Libre” subscription from their website is a good idea. It includes priority access, 10% discounts and guaranteed tickets for in-demand shows apart from exchange benefits.
You can browse through the entire program list of the Paris Opera here on their website.
The Matinee show starts at around 2.30 p.m. and evening show starts at 7.30 p.m. (it’s recommended to arrive half an hour early). Both the opera venues are very punctual and the doors close 15 minutes after the start of the performance. If you arrive late you would have to wait till the intermission to get in. Most shows of the Paris National Opera are hosted either in the Bastille Opera or the Palais Garnier. On some Wednesdays at midday the Opera de Paris announces flash sales online, so stay tuned!!!
Balcon (second row seats behind orchestra seating), Baignoires (which are ground-level little boxes) and orchestra seats are the most preferred along with box seats and Optima. Look for these terms when you are booking tickets online.
For enquiries about all shows and group bookings:
Phone: 08 92 89 90 90 (inside France)
+33 (0)1 71 25 24 23; +33 (0)1 40 01 80 54 (outside France)
Call between 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Saturday
Email: [email protected]
Some call Palais Garnier “the most beautiful building in Paris” while some claim that it is the grandest theatre in the world. Whatever be the case the hand painted curtains, sumptuous foyers, grand staircase and dazzling chandeliers command a lot of attention. To know more about the structural beauty of the building and to read more about Palais Garnier history Go through this article on Palais Garnier.
One amazing way to see the building is to watch a show here. The 1900 seated vintage style auditorium is mostly used as a venue for classical ballet shows produced by the Paris Opera. Some lovely performances that have happened here include the Swan Lake and Cinderella. If ballet is not to your taste then you can also try recital or other concerts.
Booking online is the best option as the same queue is used for buying guided tours and ticket shows at the venue making waiting times huge. Simply book your tickets online to avoid any hassle.
If you have pre booked tickets then you can pick them up from the main reception desk of Palais Garnier (it stands to the right of the entrance). A ticket exchange service is also available (Email [email protected] to know more). Browse through all available shows of Palais Garnier and book your tickets through the Paris Opera website. You can also use the services of third party websites and agents to get tickets.
Tickets are sold from the box offices of the Palais Garnier from 10 am to 6:30 pm. If affordability is an issue booking tickets at the counters is great… you can get tickets for as low as 30 euros for last minute shows.
The ticket categories are Optima (expensive and great views) and then rows 1 to 6 (try to buy category 4 or lower denomination number for unobstructed views).
Place de l’Opéra
On the corner of rue scribe and rue Auber, 75009 Paris
Phone: +33 171 2524 23; Website
One of the main creations in the 1889 Grands Travaux endeavour (monument building project) of French president Francois Mitterrand’s, the Bastille Opera went on to become the major facility of the Paris National Opera. Its conceptualisation was as a modern technologically advanced space that could be used for larger creative acts and modern opera productions. The opera is all white with glamorous glass exteriors and transparent facades and common designs for both the exteriors and interiors.
The Bastille Opera was conceptualised in the 1880’s after the Palais Garnier had opened and a competition was launched for its design and architecture (this time by Opera Bastille Public Corporation, EPOB) and a relatively little known architect Carlos Ott (a Canadian) was selected. The Opera construction began in 1884 on the demolished space left by Gare de la Bastille station. The inauguration happened on 13th July 1989 on the 200th anniversary of the Bastille storming….the construction cost came up to 2.8 million.
The Bastille Opera is in an arena format with 2 large balconies at the back and few narrow balconies on the sides. All seats are the same with clear visibility and there are no boxes. It can seat 2,745 people at a time. The ambience of Opera Bastille can appear cold to visitors especially those who are expecting grandiosity like the Palais Garnier. There is a prominence of blue and grey granite (sourced from Brittany), black and white stone and black fabric in the décor of the auditorium hall with the only warm touches being pear wood (sourced from China) seats and oak coloured handrails.
The Bastille Opera is technologically superior with a composite systems of rotating docks and rails and motorised platforms that are well suited for hosting 3D sets. There is also a gigantic elevator and an enormous backstage that’s six times as large as the deck. Frequent costume and theatre accessory workshops are held at the Opera Bastille.
The acoustics and the stage display are both excellent and all the shows are captioned clearly in English and French. The seats are comfortable and the best thing is the quality of operas that are hosted here; they are uniformly superlative. There is a free cloakroom and a bar and you can get good (though overpriced) drinks and food during the interval.
The organisation is sometimes less than desirable; there are frequent security holdups inside and guests have to wait outside even if they arrive on specified time. There is also a shortage of staff to direct public to appropriate floors. You may have to queue for the loo too…for an opera this size there should have been more than 4 cubicles.
There is a nice looking restaurant on the top floor that serves average food but offers great views from its all glass walls. The gift shop stocking impressive collection of c.d’s and collectibles is downstairs. It’s open from Monday to Saturday (11:30 am to 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm to 7 pm). Phone: +33 1 40 01 17 82
Book your tickets from The Paris Opera Website.
The best shows of Paris Opera are shown in the Bastille Opera so expect heavy demand for these shows. The schedule is available from months beforehand so book well in advance if you want to grab a seat.
Ticket prices will vary from show to show but you can expect them to cost anything between 50 euros to 200 euros. Tickets less than 100 euros wont feature on the website…go to the physical booking counter and book if you want a good deal.
Alternatively collect those from the physical booking counter i.e. the box offices of the Opera Bastille (between 11:30 am to 6:30 pm from Monday to Saturday)
The Opera Bastille stands in the Place de la Bastille in the 11th arrondisment of Paris
120 rue de Lyon, Place Bastille; Phone: +33 892 89 90 90
The Mogador was established in 1919 and was built in emulation of the English Le Palace Music Hall. Though originally it was called Palace Theatre in order to appeal to the World War-I British soldiers. The Mogador got its name much later after inspiration from a city in west Morocco.
The American president Franklin Roosevelt inaugurated the theatre and it became a venue that was dedicated to musical shows. It first shot to fame with Sergei Diagheilev’s Ballet Russes and opera performances like Mistinguett (reigning from 1920’s to 1930’s). Since more than 100 years the Palace Theatre with its British style architecture, array of international shows and French charm has remained firm in its position as one of the leading operas of Paris. Stars like Tino Rossi and Jacques Weber have performed here.
In 2005 the Mogador got a major makeover when it was acquired by the stage entertainment group. Now, Mostly Broadway style shows are hosted here… Mama Mia, Lion King, Cats, Swan Lake, Grease are some of the famous productions. The Mogador was one of the earliest hosts of the Ballet Russe in Paris in the past. Its deep and confined orchestra pit, lavish backstage and star studded history has made it one of the preferred stops in any cultural guided tour of Paris.
Certain sections in the Mogador theatre have accessibility features so differently abled guests can contact the management in advance by telephone to ensure seating in suitable areas. The seating capacity is 1600. The décor and ambience is vintage French and there is nice artwork and spacious foyers. The bar (there are 6 counters) is moderately priced and there are adequate number of toilets along with free cloakroom access. There is plenty of legroom inside the auditorium and outside the auditorium you can snack of freshly made Bagels courtesy “Bagelestien”.
You can check the show list and book tickets from the Ticket Master Website. Ticket prices range from 60 euros to 150 euros
25 rue Mogador, 75009 Paris
Nearest metro Trinite d Estienne Orves
Nearest Train station Saint Lazare
Email: [email protected]; Phone: 33185086689
Once you are done watching the show at theatre Mogador you can drop into one of the many bars and restaurants around or go off shopping at the Passage des Panoramas that’s nearby.
There are two parking spaces available for guests of the Mogador; INDIGO Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and Parking ONE PARK Pigalle Theatres, so bringing your own vehicle is not an issue.
One of the rare state theatres in France and known as the oldest active French theatre; the Comedie Francaise has its own troupe of actors. Incidentally the theatre has been known as Theatre de la Republique and La Maison de Moliere (inspired by France’s best playwright Moliere).
The comedie Francaise was formed in August 1680 by a decree of Louis XIV that joined together the two Parisian acting troupes; Guenegaud theatre and Hotel Bourgogne group. Till the 18th century only the French nobility could afford to watch shows here as the ticket prices were quite expensive. Right now this is one of the most achievable venues around….prices are quite moderate and you can even get a CF card to gain further discounts.
You need to have a working understanding of French to see shows here as most productions are in French. You might also want to read the play before you see the production as the language tends to be archaic. If you don’t speak French try catching a ballet performance or an orchestra concert; they happen sometimes.
Check the schedule on the official website; it’s very comprehensive and easy to navigate. The main venue of Comedie Francaise is a part of the Palais Royale complex; the Salle Richelieu ….There are two other venues of the group; Theatre du Vieux Colombier and Studio Theatre but these are much less grander.
Salle Richelieu Theatre (Richelieu Room)
Right now this is the prime venue of Comedie Francaise; the elegantly vintage building designed by Victor Louis stands in rue de Richelieu. This is a very beautiful building with many columns, cream stonework and scores of sash windows…it fits in perfectly with its settings. Once inside look at the massive chandeliers, lavish red seats and gilded staircase and the classic horse shape auditorium and you will see why this is one of the most elite theatre venues of Paris.
The group had several other homes in the past including the Café Procope and the Royal Palace of the Tuileries… The Salle Richelieu venue is Italian style and has been designed by Victor Louis….it can accommodate 800 visitors. Moliere’s armchair is displayed in a glass box inside the theatre. Look at the Comedie Francaise logo carefully and you will be able to make out its motto “simul & simulis” i.e. be together and yet individual. The venue is a part of many Paris tours mainly because of its heritage and because of the fact that it stands in a very important part of Paris…right besides Louvre.
There is an onsite gift shop stocking a great collection of original cd’s and DVD’s of comedie Francaise shows and other items like wine glasses, tote bags, luggage tags and assorted gift items. The Comedie Francaise offers a guided tour of its Richelieu venue on Saturdays in French. The restaurant and bar inside serve traditional fine French food and has an impressive wine list.
1, Place Colette, 75001 Paris
Phone: 08 25 10 16 80
Theatre Du Vieux-Colombier
On the other hand if grandeur is not what you seek and a great show is enough and you happen to be staying/ sightseeing around the Saint Germaine des Pres area then the Theatre Du Vieux-Colombier is also a good choice. This was founded in 1913 by Jacques Copeau (a leading director) and it fell to shambles some year later before being refurbished by the Bernard Kohn …the celebrity architect. This is a small venue that can seat 300 and hosts both classic and contemporary work.
There is a bar and bistro style restaurant inside that remains open from Tuesday to Saturday from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.; the Du Vieux Colombier is a hugely popular place amongst locals. Sometimes theatre props and costumes are put on display inside the bistro adding to its charm.
This is a fully accessible venue with ground level wheelchair friendly entrance, disability friendly toilets and reserved parking slots.
21 Rue du Vieux Colombier. Phone: +33 1 44 39 87 00
The 3rd and the newest stage of the Comedie Francaise troupe stands in the Carrousel du Louvre and it opened in the recent past; 1996. It has a 50 m2 stage and a small auditorium that can seat 136 people. Shows here usually start around 6.30 p.m. If you happen to visit the Carrousel du Louvre then you can try watching a show at this cute venue that stands in the galerie du Carrousel.
There is a bookshop, gift shop and a small café and bar here that only opens an hour before the performance. Like the other two venues this one is also friendly towards guests with reduced mobility and ability. Every year about 30 new plays/ productions are put across all 3 venues.
Galerie du Carrousel. Phone: +33 1 44 58 15 15
You can view a list of all shows and book tickets from this Comedie Francaise Website Page. You can even create a CF (Comedie Francaise ) membership by getting a CF card (price around 25 euros) and you can get preferential access, priority bookings and up to 65% off on shows. For all internet tickets customer can download an m-ticket (specific app has to be downloaded) and show it at the venue from their phones to gain entry.
- You can book tickets by telephone…there is a dedicated phone line for this… 01 44 58 15 15
(call between Monday to Saturday 11 am-6 pm)
- You can book tickets for all Comedy Francaise shows from their physical booking outlets at the specified times.
- Richelieu Room (booking time from Monday to Saturday 11am to 6pm)
- Theatre Du Vieux-Colombier (booking time from Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 1.30 pm and 2.30 p.m. to 6 pm)
- Studio Theatre (ticket bookings available only from 1 hour before the show)
Special Accessibility Help Desk:
Disability service: +33 (0)1 44 58 15 02 (call between Monday to Friday from 11am to 6pm)
Email [email protected]
If concerts are your thing and popular music inspires you then the concert heaven of Paris…Le Olympia should be on your list. This was previously known as Montagne’s Russes because of the wooden roller coasters that were installed here by Joseph Oller (he founded Moulin Rouge) and this incredible music venue has launched great musicians since 1893.
Gilbert Beacud wooed his audience with Mister 100 000 volts and Edith Piaf sang La Vie en Rose on this very stage. Lots of international icons like Georges Brassens and Johnny Halliday made their debuts here. Locals lovingly call it the café de l Olympia…for many years the Olympia Hall was a haven for the creative who drove to the city n hordes when the Bohemian movement was in full swing.
The clean lines and shallow balconies of the exteriors may almost make you miss the place if it were not for the huge LED sign outside. Inside, you will be struck by the smart seating. During rock concerts the place can hold up to 2,824 people while in seated productions up to 1,985 individuals can enjoy the show.
The great holding capacity of the concert venue tempts almost every international act to perform here on their world tours. Some of the most in demand performances tend to have their tickets sold out in a few hours. There are big ticket music festivals held here that revolve around big names in the French music industry.
The great thing about Olympia is that it’s a big brand but it’s not averse to promoting talented upcoming artists who are looking for their own platforms. Locals and expats and tourists mingle freely here. And if you are lucky enough to be around on Make the Music Day on June 21st then you can catch the free shows at Olympia
On the flip side if you are a stickler for discipline and security then Olympia might not appeal to you much. There are people who walk down the aisle during the show and stand right in front of the stage.
The concert hall has 3 seating levels. The cheapest tickets will require you to get to the venue 2 to 3 hours before the show and then stand in a roped off line before being admitted into a standing room only area (good for people with a lot of energy). The second level has the most comfortable seats and is horseshoe shaped. In case you can get seats on the front row of this level or near the aisle …go for it!!
The third level of seating is shaped like stadium style and the seats rise up to the back of the theatre. Certain seats are adaptable for people with reduced abilities. The seating in general is not luxury quality but adequate. The acoustics are great and the venue has an old world intimate feel about it that may seem a bit run down to many. Sometimes the air-conditioning is not adequate but the toilets are sufficient and the vibe makes up for all the inadequacies. The associated café bar café de l Olympia is great and serves excellent French food. There is quick bar service during intervals.
There are generally 2 shows in a day; matinee usually begins from 2 p.m. while the evening show is from 6.00 p.m. It’s recommended to arrive half an hour early for all shows.
You can book through the Olympia official website though it’s not the easiest to navigate.
An easier option is to Browse through the shows on offer and book your tickets from the Ticket Master Website.
Tickets for the proper seated areas start from about 40 euros
28 Boulevard des Capucines, 75009 Paris
Phone: +33 (0) 8 92 68 33 68
The Olympia stands in the Madeleine neighbourhood in the 9th arrondisment of Paris. This is one of the city’s richest neighbourhoods and is full of boutiques and luxury hotels.
Colourful stained glass windows and archaic Gothic arches, the Le Sainte Chappelle is one of the most beautiful churches in Paris. Go through Sainte Chapelle and learn more about the unique beauty and facilities of the church. One of its most beautiful experiences are an amalgamation of music and spiritual beauty when some of the most gifted soloists of classical orchestra scene of Paris perform Baroque and traditional music masterpieces here. In fact the best way to experience the beauty of this church is to skip the guided tour and attend a classical concert instead.
Photography inside is strictly prohibited before or after the concert. The evening shows usually begin at 6 p.m. every day and the afternoon shows at around 4 p.m. (you are advised to arrive at 5.15 p.m. and 3.15 p.m. respectively) so that you can take in the stunning beauty of the place. Seats are not assigned…you have to go in and grab your best seat.
Listening to a classical composition like Vivaldi four seasons, Bach Violin and sacred music while watching the dying light filter through the windows is a great experience. The concert lasts for about an hour and half (maximum) and there are 3 different seating levels with different price points. Choose to sit at a mid-point so that the stained glass, exquisite arches and the musicians are all in good view. The Chappelle isn’t very large and the acoustics is good so the sound is clear from everywhere.
Be prepared for lack of toilets inside and an extensive security check outside. Avoid coming in the winters…the Chappelle is not heated.
Tickets start from about 30 euros. Several independent websites offer tickets for the concert at Sainte Chappelle. One good option is to go to this website and book. You can also buy it from many physical outlets such as the lady who runs a souvenir shop right across the street from the church.
8 Boulevard du Palais
Phone: 33 / (0)1 53 40 60 80; Website