The only timed thing I had planned to do for the day was to use my Paris Pass to join the 2:30pm English tour of the Opéra Garnier. I was early and quickly hurried in to join the line only to see notes at the admissions ticket desk saying “Sold Out” and “Paris Pass Sold Out”. A large group in front of me was trying to figure out what was still available and learned that the auditorium was closed due to rehearsal, but they could do an audio tour, and yes, even though they had the Paris Pass it didn’t count towards anything except the twice a day English tour.
Due to the auditorium being closed the group in front of me left disgruntled. I asked for more information about the audio tour and where I could get it. I was motioned towards another line. I thought it was silly to have exhausted my already exhausted self more by getting to the Opéra Garnier on time only to not go in. I tried to book tickets on a machine but got stuck when they wanted a card. I was working with cash only, so I got in a different line, bought my tickets and then bought my audio guide. I also asked what time, if you wanted to actually do the audio tour you needed to arrive at the Opéra Garnier. Apparently no matter what time you want to do the tour with the Paris Pass you have to arrive at 10am and sign up. No way I could do that again, even though I was staying nearby. So with my audio guide in hand I set off to follow it’s step by step directions through the Opéra Garnier.
To be honest I feel bad for the group that left because the Auditorium was closed. If there’s anything I learned about French architecture during my stay is that it’s always immense, always lavish, and to always look up.
Every room was decorated to the nth degree. Sculptures, gold leaf, gold paintings, actual paintings, lyres and everything filled every available space.
The first stop is the grand staircase, built to accentuate the gowns women wore to the opera and for them to easily climb the stairs. The whole set up with these balconies to look down and see who was coming up to the opera was to see and be seen.
The opera in Paris during the time was a social gathering place. People arrived late and would use the time to go visit each other in their boxes to discuss important matters or gossip. Everyone who was anyone would be at the opera and it was built at the request of Emperor Napoleon III.
It looks, nearly like a palace. The tour takes you through the rooms of the Opéra Garnier filling you in on the history and the reasons why things were done in the way they were.
There’s a sun room on one end and a night room on the other.
There’s beautiful paintings in the room where refreshments would be held and busts of the diva’s of the day and the audio guide discusses how diva doesn’t mean the same thing it use to. Divas were more like the starlets of the day and were almost on par with gods to the people and this was reserved for singers.
Dancers on the other hand tended to not reach the same level of fame and would need to find sponsors to make more money.
There was just so much to look at. Even though people thought the whole thing was over the top, I really loved all the little details. It reminded me a bit of Versailles and the Louvre.
They also have the box for the Phantom of the Opera marked and talk about it a bit, which I thought was cool.
Before leaving the audio guide sent me through the library and the galleries. I got to see costumes, costume designs, set designs, music sheets, videos, and listen to recordings of the opera.
Every inch of the Opéra Garnier was stunning and the whole tour which I assumed would be short on my own ended up being much longer than I expected. I’m so happy I explored it even though the auditorium was closed.
The Opéra Garnier is open from 10am until 5pm. They suggest you give yourself at least an hour and stop letting people in at 4:30pm. They are closed during shows and if there is rehearsal the auditorium will be closed.