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7 Exciting Facts About the Tour de France, and Where to Stream the Race
Lasting nearly three weeks and involving several hundred competitors, the Tour de France is one of the biggest sporting events across the globe — and in the world of cycling, it’s definitely the biggest. This much-anticipated annual race faced some setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the world hasn’t returned to normal yet, devoted cycling fans (and those of us who simply love edge-of-our-seats competition) are eager for the big return slated for this summer.
In honor of the Tour de France’s grand 2021 re-entry to the sporting universe on Saturday, June 26, we’re taking a look at some fun facts that’ll get your anticipation building even more. Plus, you’ll discover where and how you can watch every minute of the race from the comfort of home — no cleats or helmet necessary.
Thousands of People Are Involved
You might already know that a bevy of bicyclists participate in the race — 198 riders spread across 22 different teams compete each year. But the number of people involved in ensuring the race goes off without a hitch is much higher than the number of athletes participating. Organizers take logistics to the next level with team staff members, members of the race jury, thousands of security professionals and members of the media. If you include the spectators in that count, the numbers — pre-pandemic, at least — can run into the millions . From city to city along the race route, hundreds upon hundreds of people follow the action throughout the course of the event. And organizers and support staff keep things running smoothly to the finish line.
The Race Has a Surprising Connection to a Newspaper
The first Tour de France wasn’t held because a bunch of bicycling fans got together and thought it’d be a great idea to start a competition — at least not totally. It was actually a promotional event hosted with the intention of bringing more publicity to L’Auto , a French newspaper that focused on reporting details about different sporting events. Although L’Auto has since closed down, the parent company of its replacement, L’Equipe , continues to organize the Tour de France today.
It’s Not Just Big, but Also Long
And it’s long in multiple ways, too. The race itself takes place over the course of nearly a month, with 21 different day-long segments making up the bulk of the competition. The length of the course is also extensive, however; it’s typically over 2,000 miles long and can pass through multiple neighboring countries. It wasn’t even always this short, either — in 1926, the course encompassed a winding 3,570 miles and took a full month for riders to finish.
Different Jerseys Mean Different Things
As you watch the race, you’ll notice cyclists wearing the bright kits and bibs that represent their teams — but you’ll also spot some even more unique colors and designs among the pack. One of these is a yellow jersey, called the “maillot jaune,” that’s bestowed upon the racer who had the lowest cumulative ride time for the day. Other special jerseys include the green “maillot vert,” which is awarded to the rider with the most points, and the “maillot a pois” — a red and white polka-dotted jersey given to the cyclist who earns the most points during the areas of the course that have steep inclines to climb. The rider who wears the maillot a pois is affectionately known as “the king of the mountain.”
There Was Almost Only One Tour de France
The first Tour de France took place in 1903 – and that was almost the one and only iteration of the race. That’s because newspaper editor Henri Desgrange, who helped organize the initial tour, was so aghast at the conduct not only of the fans but also of the competitors in the 1903 race that he wanted to discontinue it despite its clear appeal. Boisterous crowds turned violent, with spectators assaulting racers as they passed along the course. The riders themselves found numerous ways to cheat, disqualifying themselves in the process. But the Tour de France was so lauded — and it increased circulation of L’Auto so extensively — that the organizers had no choice but to continue hosting the event.
The Race Has Its Own Language
Bonking, anyone? As you’re watching the Tour de France, you might hear commentators use some curious turns of phrase — and many of them will be unique to the race itself. Boost your bicycling know-how by learning what these terms mean before catching one of the race segments:
- Bonking: Cyclists don’t want to “bonk” during this race; it means they’ve run out of energy and are too wiped to continue.
- Peloton: No, it’s not the fancy exercise bike you bought during the pandemic. In Tour de France context, a peloton is the main group of riders where most of the participants are cycling together.
- Sag Wagon: If someone bonks, they may need the assistance of the sag wagon. This is a car that follows the pack of cyclists and picks up those who become too fatigued or injured to keep riding.
- Musket Bag: While it may sound like something you’d find at a Civil War battleground, a musket bag is sort of like a bagged lunch — but it’s packed with energy gels, water, sandwiches and other fuel for the cyclists. It’s also called a “musette” or, sometimes, a “bonk bag.”
- Lanterne Rouge: In French, this term means “red light,” and it refers to the cyclist who’s in the very last place in the race. Being in this position gets riders ample attention, and those who know they won’t win sometimes compete for this distinction instead.
You Can Watch the Action at Home — Here’s How
Now that the race has returned to regularly scheduled programming in 2021 following its 2020 pandemic postponement, you might be eager to catch the three-week racing saga unfold from the comfort of home. Fortunately, you have the convenient option to stream the tour live on both NBC Sports and NBC’s Peacock streaming service.
The race coverage on Peacock is only available through Peacock Premium, a paid tier of the service that costs $4.99 — a worthwhile investment if you’re a serious cycling fan who can’t wait to watch this Grand Tour. NBC Sports is accessible if you’re already paying for regular cable, but without that subscription you won’t be able to stream the program online or watch it on TV unless you spring for Peacock.
Keep in mind that, if you’re not already a Peacock subscriber, you’ll receive a free weeklong trial to better help you determine if the service is right for you. You can use that to catch up on the race and decide if you want to make the month-long (or longer) investment.
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The Bastille Opera
Visit The Palais Garnier
Discover its history, its treasures...
© Marc Walter / OnP
The Palais Garnier is open every day from 10am to 5pm (tickets are sold until 4 pm), except on days with afternoon performances and exceptional closures.
Last entry 45 minutes before closing time (for ticket holders). Security checks at the entrance may cause delays, thank you for your understanding. For reasons related to theater activity, the performance hall is regularly inaccessible to visitors.
The cloakrooms are closed during visiting hours. Some objects are not allowed in our theaters - Learn more .
Self-guided tour, with or without your own speaker .
The Paris Opera offers you the possibility to discover the treasures of the Palais Garnier's public areas, a master piece of the 19th century theater art architecture. This ticket also gives you access to the current exhibitions (when available).
The Paris Opera offers you the possibility to discover the treasures of the Palais Garnier's public areas, a master piece of the 19th century theater art architecture. This ticket also gives you access to the current exhibitions (when available).
Booking is mandatory.
Adult rate : €8 Youth rate (12-25 years old): €7 Free admission (groups from nursery and elementary schools)
Booking fixed fees
Full rate : €45 Reduced rate : €20
Prices, opening hours and conditions of booking
Available with a multimedia guide service
Exclusively for works councils, organizations, tour operators, bus operators, and travel agencies. These preferential rates tickets are valid for one year from date of purchase and for individual use (less than 7 people, speaking fee not included).
For orders below 300 tickets : €12.5/ticket For orders upper to 300 tickets: €12/ticket
Minimum purchase: 20 tickets per order.
Prices and conditions of booking
Informations and Bookings
By e-mail : visitegarnier@ operadeparis.fr
By mail : Opéra national de Paris Service des visites 8 rue Scribe, 75009 Paris, FRANCE
You can also book a themed guided tour, for a unique and unusual visit after opening hours.
Backstage areas' private tour
A private tour at the Palais Garnier combining two moments: a tour of the public areas and a backstage visit. Commented tours (French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch or Chinese).
Duration: 1 hour and a half.
- Public and backstage areas (group of 5 participants max.): 700 € excl. VAT (840 € including VAT)
Public and backstage areas (group of 6 to 20 participants): 1 500 € excl. VAT (1 800 € including VAT)
- Public and backstage areas (group of 21 to 30 participants): 2 000 € excl. VAT (2 400 € including VAT)
- Public and backstage areas + costumes workshops* (group of 1 to 20 participants): 3 000 € excl. VAT (3 600 € including VAT)
- Possibility to arrange a thematic visit centered around the Phantom of the Opera.
*The visit of the costumes workshops are available only on weekdays, as a complement of the backstage areas tour.
By phone : +33 1 58 18 35 57 From Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm
By e-mail : entreprises@ arop.operadeparis.fr
Self-guided tours for groups - information
Time slots are available every thirty minutes from 10:15 a.m. to 3 :15 p.m. (4 :15 p.m. during summer period) except on days with afternoon performances and exceptionnal closures. Access to the Palais Garnier is only guaranteed to groups with booking.
- Closed in the morning
- Closed in the afternoon
- Exceptional closure
- Restricted access
Click on a date to see detailed schedules
By e-mail: [email protected]
These booking conditions are valid for all groups with their own guide (no minimum participants’ number) and for groups with a minimum of 10 participants without guide. Bookings are obligatory (at least 21 days before the date of the visit) and must be done at the Visits Service. To do so, please send your request by :
- Email: [email protected] - Mail: Opéra national de Paris - Service des visites– 8 rue scribe – 75009 Paris – France
In addition to the entry tickets, each group - a maximum of 30 participants for a group of adults and 35 participants for a school or extracurricular group (accompanying adults and tour guide included) - must pay a booking fee.
This booking fee includes the booking of a time slot on a given day, headsets for the whole group*. Note that the use of headsets is optional for elementary or nursery school groups unless an express approval is delivered by the Paris Opera. Guided tours must be led by a guide holder of the French professional tour guide card or a a teacher with their students, unless an express approval is delivered by the Paris Opera. The payment must be done 15 days before the planned visit at the latest by checque, wire transfer or credit card. You can either collect your tickets at the visitors’ entrance to the Palais Garnier or have them sent by recorded delivery with receipt (postage fee : €8, €15 for foreign countries).
Full rate : visitor over 25 years old
Reduced rate** :
- Young people aged 12-25 and their accompanying adults (a maximum of one accompanying adult for 9 children, additional accompanying adults pay full price).
- The unemployed, recipients of social assistance / RSA / other minimum social benefits (on presentation of a document dated within the last 3 months);
- The disabled and their helpers (on presentation of a proof, limited to one helper per disabled person);
- Children under the age of 12 (accompanying adults up to a maximum of one accompanying adult for 5 children go free, additional accompanying adults pay the reduced rate);
- Groups of students from the École du Louvre and from architecture and schools;
- Groups of applied art schools coming as part of a drawing session (educational project to be provided)
Booking fee is required for all group visits.
Full rate : groups comprised of more than 7 adults (over the age of 25) pay full price.
Reduced rate :
- School groups and extra-curricular groups under the age of 25;
- Groups of adults exempt from paying the entrance fee (recipients of social assistance, the unemployed, the disabled);
- Small groups comprised of 7 people or less, with a lecturer.
*the equipment includes a microphone and headsets without multimedia contents. To be distinguished from multimedia guides offering interactive visits. **only on presentation of a valid identification.
The temporary exhibitions’ area is not accessible for people with reduced mobility.
Block booking information
Visits take place every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except on days with afternoon performances, exceptionnal closure and summer period). Last entrance 45 minutes before closure. Annual closure dates: 1st January and 1st May.
By phone: +33 1 40 01 24 90, from Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm, or by e-mail: [email protected]
On-site ticketing service
Block booking is exclusive for works councils, organizations, tour operators, bus operators, and travel agencies. These preferential rates tickets are valid for one year from date of purchase and for individual use (less than 7 people, speaking fee not included).
Booking is obligatory and must be made at least 15 days prior to the ticket use, by sending your request to the Visits Service:
- E-mail: [email protected]
- Opéra national de Paris - Service des visites– 8 rue scribe – 75009 Paris
Booking payment can be made by cheque, wire transfer or credit card.
You can either collect your tickets at the visitors’ entrance at the Palais Garnier or have them sent by recorded delivery with receipt (postage fee: €8).
To learn more about our on-line tickets service, please contact the Visits Service:
- Phone: +33 1 40 01 24 90, from Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm.
For orders below to 300 tickets: €12,5/ticket For orders upper 300 tickets: €12/ticket Please note that minimum purchase is 20 tickets per order.
Our multimedia guide services
Explore the architecture, history, legends and secrets of Charles Garnier’s masterpiece. Multimedia guide devices are available every day from 10am to 3pm and from 10am to 11:30 on days with matinée performances.
A magically enlightening 90-minute multimedia voyage, enriched with archival images and interviews with specialists of the Opera and its history. During the tour, thanks to augmented reality, the most emblematic and inaccessible areas of the buil-ding, such as the Foyer de la Danse and the Costume Depository, also become accessible. Explore the auditorium, inspect Marc Chagall’s ceiling, the paintings in the Grand Foyer and the façade of the Palais Garnier. Make your own way around the Palais Garnier or follow a suggested route. An interactive plan to guide you.
- Device : iPad mini
- Price : €6.50
- Length of visit: 90 mins
- Languages available: French, English, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean
- Accessibility: French sign language, French audio-descriptive tour
For children (6 years and above):
Let Zoé ballerina of the Opera take you on a tour of Charles Garnier’s architectural masterpiece. The legends of the Palais Garnier will hold no secrets for you or your children (6 to 13 years old) thanks to this 1 hour-interactive tour (games throughout the tour).
- Device: iPad
- Price: €6,50
- Length of visit: 1 hr
- Languages available: French, English, Spanish
Read CGV here
In partnership with the Google Cultural iIstitute, discover the theatre and its masterpieces as if you were actually there.
Chidren games experience
A funny document for the children to explore the Palais Garnier and discover its history, while playing a game.
At the heart of the Palais Garnier, the Devialet acoustic discovery room showcases wireless speakers, among which the "Gold Phantom Opéra de Paris".
Informations: devialet.com , +33 9 63 53 20 79
Palais Garnier, le grand escalier © Jean-Pierre Delagarde / OnP
BASSIN DE LA PITHYE, GRAND ESCALIER
Beyond the Rotonde des Abonnés, the Bassin de la Pythia leads to the Grand Escalier with its magnificent thirty-meter-high vault. Built of marble of various colours, it is home to the double staircase leading to the foyers and the various floors of the theatre. At the bottom of the stairs, a true theatre within the theatre, two female allegories holding torches greet spectators.
Palais Garnier, le grand foyer © Jean-Pierre Delagarde / OnP
SALON DU GLACIER, FOYER
At the end of a long gallery is the Rotunde du Glacier, a fresh and bright rotunda with a ceiling painted by Clairin (1843-1919) and featuring dancing bacchantes and fauna, along with tapestries illustrating different refreshments as well as fishing and hunting. Completed after the opening of the Palais Garnier, this salon evokes the aesthetic of the Belle Époque. The vault of the Avant-Foyer is covered with mosaics of shimmering colours on a gold background. The view of the Grand Staircase is spectacular. The play of light between mirrors and windows in the Grand Foyer further accentuates the latter's vast dimensions. The ceiling painted by Paul Baudry (1828-1886) features themes from the history of music. The lyre is the main element: it reigns over all the decorative vocabulary, be it on capitals, heating grids or doorknobs. A copy of Charles Garnier's bust by the sculptor Carpeaux (1827-1875) is located in the centre of the foyer, near a window looking down the Avenue de l'Opera towards the Louvre. The view can be enjoyed even more from the loggia. The Salons du Soleil et de la Lune offer a symbolic and poetic transition to the other areas.
library-museum of the opera
The collections of the Library-Museum of the Opera (National Library of France) conserve three centuries of the theatre's history. The museum gallery houses a permanent exhibition of paintings, drawings, photographs and set models. After the fall of the Empire, the premises were never completed: in the staircase leading to the temporary exhibition hall, remain the massive stone blocks dating from 1870. Access to the reading room, located in the Rotunde de l'Empereur, is restricted to researchers.
GALERIE DE L'ORCHESTRE, GRAND VESTIBULE
The Galerie de l'Orchestre offers a last glance of the Palais Garnier and an audiovisual exhibition recounting its history. The Grand Vestibule, watched over by the statues of the four composers Rameau, Lully, Gluck and Handel, leads to the exit.
For reasons related to theater activity, the performance hall is regularly inaccessible to visitors.
In the tradition of Italian theatre, the horseshoe-shaped "French" auditorium, so-called for the way the seats are arranged according to their category, was designed for the audience to see and to be seen. Its metallic structure, hidden by marble, stucco, velvet and gilding, supports the weight of the 8-ton bronze and crystal chandelier with its 340 lights. The house curtain was created by theatrical painters Auguste Rube (1817-1899) and Philippe Chaperon (1823-1906), following Charles Garnier's instructions. The curtain was replaced by an identical one in both 1951 and 1996. The ceiling painted by Marc Chagall and commissioned by the Minister of Culture André Malraux was inaugurated on September 23, 1964.
The theatre history
Learn more about the Paris Opera's history and architecture in our section "350 years".
- Musée d'Orsay ticket-holders (offer valid within 8 days after the date the Musée d'Orsay ticket is issued);
- Holders of the Musée d'Orsay Carte Blanche (offer valid throughout the period of the card's validity). Reduced-rate admission for a Musée d'Orsay entry ticket is also available to holders of a Palais Garnier tour ticket, up to 8 days after the issue date of this ticket.
Musée Gustave Moreau
Phone : +33 (0)220.127.116.11.00
Prepare your visit
Entrance at the corner of Scribe and Auber streets 75009 Paris
Access to the Palais Garnier
Metro: Opéra station (lines 3, 7 and 8) RER: Auber station (line A) Bus: lines 20, 21, 27, 29, 32, 45, 52, 66, 68, 95 Car park: Q-Park Edouard VII - Rue Bruno Coquatrix 75009 Paris (in front of 23 Rue de Caumartin) Reserve your parking space
The Palais Garnier offers a safe access to persons with reduced mobility, in wheelchair or with visual disabilities (except places for temporary exhibitions).
Information and Booking +33 1 40 01 18 50 (from Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm). accessibilité@operadeparis.fr
+33 1 71 25 24 23 (0.35€/min) or on-site, at the desks or automatic terminals.
Guided tours +33 (1) 89 16 83 02 (0.15€/min) or [email protected] https://www.manatour.fr/opera
Guided tours +33 (1) 89 16 83 02 (0.15€/min) or [email protected] https://www.manatour.fr/opera
Please note that the cloakrooms are not available for visitors.
The book and gift shop
From Monday to Sunday, from 10am to 7pm and until the end of performances; and from 10:30 am to 6 pm from 17 th July to 30 th August. Access from street Havély or from the theatre public areas. Information: +33 1 53 43 03 97
Open everyday from 7:30am to 2am (last service at 11pm).
1, place Jacques Rouché - 75009 Paris (at the right of the theatre façade).
Booking: +33 1 42 68 86 80 coco-paris.com
Visit also the Bastille Opera
The Paris Opera offers you the possibility to discover the backstage world of this modern theatre, whose dimensions are impressive, created in 1989 by Carlos Ott.
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The Opera Garnier Guided Tour
Choose your date From 19€/person
Recommended for all ages
In French or English
Highlights: The Opera Garnier Guided Tour
Welcome to the most prestigious opera and ballet house in all of Paris! Book a tour with a professional guide to discover the historical and architectural wonders of the ornate Palais Garnier. Should you choose to visit the Opéra Garnier at 5 p.m., after its doors are shut to the public, your guide will take you on a journey following the footsteps of Erik – the famed Phantom of the Opera from Gaston Leroux's novel! Visit the Palais Garnier to uncover the secrets and myths of this palace that seems to transcend time itself…
Story: The Opera Garnier Guided Tour
Built in 1875 by architect Charles Garnier, the Palais Garnier is the largest opera house in Europe, housing more than 2,000 seats under its elaborate roof. As well as being regarded as the most prestigious of Paris' theatres, the Opéra Garnier is also one of the capital's most emblematic monuments, a museum in its own right with a spectacular selection of paintings, sculptures, and fascinating architectural features.
Your tour begins at the Rotonde des Abonnés, a glorious vestibule which once served as the audience entrance. Your guide will then lead you to the fascinating statue of the Pythia, and then to the Grand Escalier - a lavish split staircase with grandiose decor, featuring marble, onyx, copper, paintings, gilding, and mosaics. At its summit, you will then reach the Grand Foyer. You may find that its splendor and captivating use of mirrors and windows are reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors at the Château de Versailles. Technical and artistic conditions permitting, you will also have access to the auditorium.
To make your visit to the Paris opera an exquisitely unique experience, you can choose to visit in the evening (5 p.m.), after the Palais Garnier is closed to the public. Your guide will take you on a tour in the footsteps of the Phantom of the Opera, the titular character from the celebrated novel by Gaston Leroux. As you discover the secrets and anecdotes of this historically and culturally rich palace, you will enjoy the rare privilege of having the entire monument to yourself, and exclusive access to the dressing room number 5 – that of the ghost himself. This tour offers you a rare opportunity to learn all of the facts and secrets about Paris' most revered (and most mysterious!) monument from an insider's perspective. What are you waiting for…?
Book a guided tour for your group of 10+ people!
Fancy sharing your trip to the Opera de Paris with friends? Look no further - Theatre in Paris offers guided group tours of this architectural relic! Indulge in an unparalleled journey through time with your closest companions and marvel as the secrets and surprises of this enchanting edifice unfold before your very eyes… a beautiful experience to share with friends and family. Enjoy reduced rates for larger groups - get in touch!
Contact us at [email protected] to make your reservation! If you are interested in booking for a group of 10 or more people , we ask that you please book at least 45 days in advance . For groups of any size, we strongly recommend booking in advance of your desired dates to guarantee your place. We’ll see you there…!
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Opéra Palais Garnier
Find the route
One of the most prestigious stages in all of France, the Palais Garnier was constructed between 1860 and 1875, designed by legendary architect Charles Garnier, who was selected among a handful of talented architects in a fierce design competition. The building itself is considered an artful masterpiece, and was one of the most expensive construction projects to come from the Second French Empire under the reign of Napoléon III. The elaborate use of different materials to lend a lavish multicolored facade was typical of many of the works under the rule of Napoléon III, and features sculptures of various figures of Greek mythology. The official inauguration in 1875 was attended by the Mayor of London and Amsterdam, the King Alphonso XII of Spain, and hundreds of members from European high society.
The interior was meticulously designed with intertwining corridors, alcoves and landings to allow for easy movement of large numbers of people; complete with a grand marble staircase and the grand foyer, acting as the drawing room for all of Paris high society and covered in gilded paintings. The auditorium itself is in a traditional Italian horseshoe shape, seating 1900. The stage is the largest in Europe and can accommodate 450 artists, revealed by the opening of the legendary painted curtain. Garnier himself designed the 7-tonne chandelier sparkling above the audience. In 1896, one of the many chandelier counterweights broke free and killed a concierge, the incident that inspired the scenes in the 1910 novel-turned-musical The Phantom of the Opera . The space above the auditorium in the copula dome was once used strictly for cleaning the chandelier, but has since been transformed into a space for opera and dance rehearsals.
The legendary building was initially deemed the Academie Impériale de Musique, yet with the fall of the Second Empire and the start of the Third Republic, this was aptly changed for the Academie Nationale de Musique, which we see written across the exterior facade to this day. Garnier envisioned his design and the transformation of the surrounding area, and to this day the opulence of the Second Empire lives on in this living monument. The avenue de l'Opéra remains the only large Parisian corridor without trees, as Garnier explicitly prevented Haussmann from adorning the street with trees, arguing that his Palais Garnier was to be the main focus. Palais Garnier became the official name in 1989 with the construction of the Opéra Bastille, and the venue now houses primarily ballets.
Fast facts Capacity: 1979 Handicap Accessible: Yes – in order to guarantee access to specific locations, we ask that you make your reservation at least 15 days before the performance. Air conditioning: Yes Heating: Yes
How do I get to the venue?
The Palais Garnier is accessible by the metro station Opéra (Lines 3, 7, 8) and Auber (RER Line A). Our hotline can be reached in case of difficulty finding the venue weekdays from 10 am to 7pm Paris time. For details, we invite you to consult the map above.
What do I do when I get to the venue?
We invite you to arrive 30 minutes before the beginning of the tour. Once you have entered the building, the meeting point with your guide is located at the Rotonde des Abonnés. Please present your voucher to the guide upon your arrival.
How long does the tour last?
The guided tour of the Palais Garnier Opera House lasts 1 hour 20 minutes.
Is it a guided tour of the Palais Garnier for tourists or French people?
Both! The Palais Garnier is an iconic monument of Paris, visited as much by travelers as by the local public. Tours are offered in French or English, usually at different times. The language is indicated in the price list after you select a day and time to visit when you make your reservation, so be sure to check your choice.
Is it possible to visit the theatre and backstage?
Guide to the Palais Garnier: How to See the Paris Opera House
The Palais Garnier, home to the Opéra Garnier, is a place of art, beauty, and even intrigue.
You can appreciate its art and beauty in the live shows and lovely architecture that brightens the 9th arrondissement of Paris. And there’s some intrigue thanks to its connection to the famous Phantom of the Opera, which still draws adoring fans to the opera house today.
Want to see this photo-worthy landmark? Here’s everything you need to know before visiting the Palais Garnier in Paris.
Where to find the Opéra Garnier
The Opéra Garnier is in the busy 9th arrondissement in Paris, right at the corner of Scribe and Auber streets. Appropriately, it holds court at the center of the Place de l’Opéra.
It’s accessible from the metro stop Opéra on lines 3, 7 and 8, or the station Auber on the RER A.
Local tip: If you like shopping, Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann is just a short walk away.
Some Paris Opera House History
The Opéra dates back to the mid-19th century when French architect Charles Garnier designed the building in the Second Empire Style, a term used to describe architecture heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance. It officially opened on Jan. 5, 1875. And if you were curious, the very first opera performed here was “La Juive,” a five-act libretto featuring forbidden love, vengeance, and plenty of dramatic arias.
And what about that connection to the Phantom of the Opera connection ? The famous play is based on none other than the Opéra Garnier in Paris. The famous tale of a haunting love triangle was a hit on Broadway and in England. While the story is fictional, the setting was inspired by the beautiful maze-like interior of the Paris Opéra. You can take a Phantom-themed tour of the opera house to see for yourself.
The Mysterious Underground Lake of the Paris Opera House
Yes, there’s an underground “lake” at the Opéra Garnier. Unfortunately, no one (guests and employees alike) have access to it.
Rumor has it, French firefighters use it to practice mock rescues here. What we do know is that the eerie subterranean reservoir inspired the French writer behind the “Phantom of the Opéra” novel, who decided to set the phantom’s lair there.
In reality, the “lake” is actually a cistern used to manage the groundwater below the building’s foundations.
What to Expect Inside the Opéra Garnier
The opera house is as extravagant and imposing as the different shows you can enjoy there. It seats over 2,000 in its massive gilded auditorium. But it’s not just a theatre. The architecture and art is an experience all on its own.
Here’s what to see before you take a seat.
Rotunde des Abbonées
When you enter the Palais Garnier, you’ll find yourself at the “Rotonde des abonnés,” a glamorous rotunda with a decorative ceiling. This is where you can buy tickets, but it’s also a great place to snap photos. Look for the sculpture of the Greek goddess Pythia right underneath the grand staircase.
It’s the classic opera house: plush red seats and gold trimming. The auditorium is breathtaking when you see it for the first time, with a structure made of everything from stucco to velvet.
Of course, there are two stars of the theater — and I’m talking about stars on the stage. One is the 8-ton bronze and crystal chandelier, complete with 340 lights. The other is the house curtain. The original, painted according to Charles Garnier’s instructions, was replaced with a replica, first in the 1950s and then in the 1990s.
Salon du Glacier
If you are a fan of awe-inspiring mosaics, don’t skip this section of the Palais Garnier.
The long gallery has a colorful painted ceiling with themes from music history. But the main thing to look out for is the replica of Charles Garnier’s bust near a window looking toward the Louvre .
This means “grand stairway,” and it certainly is a fitting name. The marble double staircase, with various chandeliers lighting the way up each step, leads to different floors of the opera house. And it’s vault is nearly 100 feet high.
This isn’t just a library — it’s an impressive museum in it’s own right with 300 years’ worth of history. Along with books, you’ll find paintings, drawings and set models.
The Palais Garnier library actually falls under the French National Library system and is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. While the reading room is reserved for researchers only, the museum section of the library is part of the opera house tour.
Visiting the Opéra Garnier (AKA Palais Garnier)
This famous opera house is too big for one name. You’ll find it referred to as the Palais Garnier or the Opéra Garnier. The name Garnier is a nod to the architect behind the building, Charles Garnier. But the building has had a few names over the years, including “National Academy of Music,” which you can see emblazoned on the front in gold letters as “Académie Nationale de Musique.”
Before going inside, take a moment to admire the exterior. It’s heavily decorated all along the many-columned facade. Besides the sculptures embedded into the front of the palace, you’ll notice gold winged statues on either side of the roof and a central sculptural group at the very top. That’s Apollo, Greek god of music and dance (and the sun and other things), holding a golden lyre with the figures of Poetry and Music by his side.
If you like classical sculptures referencing mythology and ornate, gilded architecture, you definitely should go inside the Palais Garnier.
Fortunately, there’s no need to watch a show to take in all of the Palais Garnier’s glamour. You can opt for a guided or self-guided tour of the Opéra . Group tours happen daily starting at 10 a.m., with the last tour at 5 p.m. Individual tours are offered in the afternoon in both English and French.
On a budget? You can walk inside for free, just to get a glimpse of the lobby. But to get any further and see more of this palace, you’ll need to sign up for a tour or ticket.
But a virtual tour is always free. The Opéra Garnier teamed up with Google Cultural Institute to provide an in-depth look at all the building has to offer, so opera-lovers can take the tour from anywhere in the world.
Seeing a Show
You can catch a variety of shows at this Paris opera house — not just operas.
There are certainly plenty of classic operas, often sung in Italian, but there are also ballets and concerts highlighting work from composers like Mozart, Bach, and Vivaldi.
Before you book, take a look to see if you can get discounted tickets. The Opéra Garnier offers special pricing for those under 28 and gives another discount for those under 40.
Answers to Your Questions About the Palais Garnier
Is the Palais Garnier open to the public?
Yes, it is. You can tour it for a fee or stop into the lobby where you would buy tickets, just to take a peek inside. The opera house is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What can you do nearby?
Hardly a block away from the Palais Garnier is the Galeries Lafayette, a shopping experience with all of the luxury brands you can think of. In fact, if you go to the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette, you’ll get a direct view of the opera house and the Eiffel Tower .
If you have a sweet tooth, you have to go to Fauchon, a high-end pastry shop a short walk away near the Madeleine metro stop on line 12, 14, and 8. They’re known for their gold-encrusted hazelnut tart. You must give it a try.
If you’d like a nice bar, check out Harry’s New York Bar, merely a five-minute walk away. It’s legendary — the bloody mary was invented at this famous cocktail joint.
Why is the Palais Garnier famous?
The Palais Garnier is one of many monuments dedicated to Paris’ rich art history. It’s Second Empire architecture captivates tourists and locals alike.
But one of the main draws — apart from the impressive concerts — are its ties to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash Broadway hit, “The Phantom of the Opera.”
Art, Architecture, and History at the Opéra Garnier
Like many Paris monuments, this place packs a lot into one location. It’s an opera house, museum, library, and architectural marvel. With nearly 480,000 visitors each year, the Palais Garnier is one of Paris’ most visited monuments. It has been listed as a historical monument since 1923.
Whether you want to enjoy the architecture from the outside alone, take a tour indoors, or splurge on a show, this is an easy add to your Paris itinerary, thanks to its central location not far from the Louvre.
Looking for another landmark that pulls double (or triple) duty? Check out our guide to the Panthéon , a monument, crypt, and art gallery all in one.
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Visit The Palais Garnier
Almost 150 years old and classified as a historical monument since 1923, discover a dazzling and unrivaled place, in the very center of Paris: the Palais Garnier.
Discover a unique and prestigious place in the heart of Paris
Discover a unique and prestigious place in the heart of paris: the palais garnier. several visits are to be discovered: intermezzo visit to the palais garnier: through the rooms of the opera accessible to the public, discover the extraordinary history of the palais garnier, a monument of architecture and a total work of art. visit palais garnier in the belle epoque: go back in time with charles garnier, experience the atmosphere of the temple of social life in the 19th century, let yourself be transported and join the dance visit the mysteries of the palais garnier (after closing): discover all the secrets of the paris opera in this visit outside opening hours to the general public. in a cozy atmosphere discover or rediscover a timeless place. .
Intermezzo au Palais Garnier
Les Mystères du Palais Garnier
Le Palais Garnier à la Belle Époque
Saut de Chat à l'Opéra (6-12 ans)
The palais garnier: a hymn to magic.
Initiated by Napoleon III after an attempted attack and inaugurated in January 1875, it was after 15 years of work carried out by Charles Garnier, an architect unknown at the time, that the Palais Garnier was born. Today, this building, also called Opéra Garnier is one of the most emblematic monuments of the 9th arrondissement.
Spread over an area of 11,000 m², this eclectic style building will charm you with its many influences: Louvre Museum, Palace of Versailles...
Enter the largest opera house in France and enjoy its famous grand staircase, the Bassin de la Pythie or its sumptuous grand foyer and lounges.
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See all culture tours, individual rates & information, group rates, click here., adult , 23.00 €, 16.50 €, reduced price*, 10.00 €, less than 10 years old, 26.00 €, single price visit after closing, doors open at 10 a.m. due to vigipirate checks, please arrive 30 minutes before your visit time. luggage is not accepted on site and no lockers are available for security reasons. guided tours will take place with a maximum of 30 visitors per guide. due to the cultural programming of the opera, access to the performance hall cannot be guaranteed., free for children under 4 and accompanying people with disabilities. * under 25, people with disabilities, seniors (+65), job seekers, students, address palais garnier 1 rue auber 75009 paris access metro: opera / chaussée d'antin (l3 / l7 / l8) rer: auber bus: 20, 21, 22, 27, 29, 42, 52, 53, 66, 68, 81, 95 parking: haussmann galeries lafayette 75009 paris , for further....
The Arop, Association for the Outreach of the National Opera of Paris, offers you unique private tours of the Palais Garnier. The latter reveals its most secret places to you, such as the "Lac de l'Opéra", the sewing workshops or the mysterious "castans room".
The funds collected through the sale of backstage tours are used to finance the activities of the Opéra national de Paris: shows, tours, educational projects, or even the purchase of equipment for the workshops.
Find all the information by clicking here or by downloading the brochure here
And discover the Arop here: https://arop.operadeparis.fr/