Le Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera

L’Opéra de Paris, also known as L’Opéra Garnier, and Le Palais Garnier is one the architectural masterpieces of Paris.

The grand staircase of Le Palais Garnier
The grand staircase of Le Palais Garnier

Designed by Charles Garnier, in the Néo-Baroque style,  L’Opera Garnier is typically, lavishly and unstintingly decorated. Outside, it is majestic, with marble friezes, columns and statues. Perhaps its most striking external feature and certainly the most memorable, is the row of bronze busts, depicting the great composers (Beethoven, Mozart, Rossini et al) who gaze down on all who approach. Inside, L’Opéra is simply sumptuous – a visual feast of mirrors, velvet furnishings, glittering chandeliers, polished wood, frescos, gold leaf, cherubim and seraphim. In 1964 a painting by Marc Chagall was added to the ceiling and while a stark modern work might be expected to strike an anachronistic or discordant note among this all this 19th century extravagance, it blends in surprisingly well.

L’Opéra de Paris served the opera goers of Paris from 1875 until 1989 when it became the home of the Paris Ballet. Now that it was no longer the centre of Opera, its name was changed to Le Palais Garnier.

Le Palais Garnier  is a place of many stories and one them was the inspiration for Gaston Leroux’s  famous Gothic novel “The Phantom of the Opera”. Does his ghost still haunt the place? There are many who think so and I certainly wouldn’t like to find myself alone there after lights out.


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