The Paris Opera House

After many trips to Paris, we finally visited the Palais Garnier, Paris Opera House. And it was worth the wait! What a beautiful building.

This Paris Opera House was part of the urban renewal planned by Napoleon III. In 1861, construction started on he building. It was only then that the engineers discovered that the site lay over an underground lake that had to be drained. A concrete cistern was built and this led to many legends of a lake under the Opera House.

The building of the Opera House survived the defeat of Napoleon, political chaos, and ultimately, changes in government. Finally in 1875, the Opera House opened with what was considered the largest stage in the world at the time.

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On the exterior, Baron Haussmann designed the road leading the Opera House, Avenue de l’Opéra, as wide as possible to avoid traffic jams. On the interior, the architect Charles Garnier called upon France’s finest craftsmen, painters and sculptors. At the time, the design and splendor were regarded as one most grandiose Italian-style theaters.

The Grand Staircase is built of white marble from Seravezza, Italy. There is color all through the design of the staircase: an onyx balustrade, a base in green marble from Sweden, jasper from Mont Blanc with red, yellow, and green colors, and 128 balusters in antique red marble.

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The auditorium is huge, elegant, and capped by the colorful ceiling painted by Marc Chagall and the famous “Phantom of the Opera” chandelier. In 1896 the chandelier did crash into the seats below during a performance killing an audience member. And speaking of the Phantom, you can look into the First Tier Box Five, the preferred seating area of the Phantom!

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The Grand foyer is incredible. More than 450 feet yards long and 40 feet high, it was designed to act as a drawing room for Paris society. From 1996 to 2004, major refurbishments were completed, restoring the Opera House to it’s original luster.

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The Palais Garnier is an exceptional building. Ron Phillips Travel can coordinate a tour for you of this impressive national landmark.

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