Paris – Palais Garnier & Galleries Lafayette

Hi friends, welcome back to my Paris and London Anniversary series 🙂 After spending the morning at the Rodin Museum, Jon and I headed to our final excursion in Paris, a tour of the Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera house. I booked us a tour with an opera house guide and he was incredible! This was one of my favorite tours I’ve taken and we learned so much while being completely entertained. I think our guide was also an actor because he kept changing his accent to sound French, even though he was most likely from America. You can also tour the theater on your own with an audio guide, or take an after-hour tour exploring parts that aren’t open during the day.

This grand opera house was built by Napoleon III in 1875, relatively recent compared to other buildings we saw. We started out at the tourist entrance where the wealthy patrons used to pull up in their carriages. On the ceiling you can see where the architect, Charles Garnier, hid his name.

We next made our way to the Grand Staircase and WOW! This staircase was where the Parisians would show off their style and make a grand entrance. The outfits and grand entrances were the real show of the night, not the actual performance in the auditorium. The balconies surrounding the stairs would be filled with patrons almost like an old-fashioned paparazzi gossiping about who’s with who, and who’s wearing what. Oh how I wish I could be a fly on the wall and see what it was like back then!


If you saw Emily in Paris these white marble stairs probably look familiar to you. We had to capture the moment 🙂

The spectacular Grand Foyer was where everyone mingled at intermission. It feels like something that would be in Versailles, in fact the whole opera house so extravagant you’d think Louis XIV designed it himself!

There is a small museum that includes paintings of famous dancers, composers, and singers. You can also see a copy of what the ceiling originally looked like before the remodel.

There is also a library with original books that you can access if you have a Parisian library card.

Our tour group got to sit in the 2,000 seat auditorium for a bit to take it all in. Another benefit of joining the tour!

The ceiling was remodeled in 1964 and had very mixed reactions because it was so modern compared to the rest of the theater.

Box #5 is left open to honor the Phantom of the Opera. The Palais Garnier inspired the famous play based on true events. The chandelier actually did fall and almost kill a patron, and the Palais Garnier is built over a lake and has a cistern underneath which was the inspiration for the other world in the play. The boxes closest to the stage were where people went to be seen, not to watch the show. Hard to imagine paying for such an expensive box to not be able to see a performance.

I’d highly recommend taking a tour of the Palais Garnier! This was one of the highlights of our trip and such a beautiful theater to tour! Nowadays The Opera Garnier is home to the Paris Opera Ballet, and smaller operas and performances. We didn’t see any shows during our time in Paris, but it would be an incredible experience in the future.

After our tour Jon and I went to the to see where a scene from Emily in Paris was filmed 🙂 We didn’t attempt to recreate the scene and shoplift like her friend. Besides the cool interior, the roof of this shopping center also has a great views!

On our way back to our hotel we stopped by the Domaine National du Palais for some pictures before calling an Uber home. We were incredibly exhausted from all our walking!

We spent our last night having a picnic with goodies from Rue Cler by the Eiffel Tower and soaking in every last bit of our time in Paris. It doesn’t get much better than sitting by the Eiffel Tower with a fresh baguette! We had such an amazing time in Paris and we were sad to leave, but excited to see London.

On our last morning in Paris we said goodbye to this beautiful view, packed our bags, and checked out of our hotel. We planned to Uber to the train station, but the cabs and Ubers were busy taking people from the airport to the Paris Open, so we opted to take the Metro for the first time of the trip. I was very paranoid about getting pickpocketed on our trip, so we had walked everywhere we could and avoided the Metro thus far. We walked to the station, bought our tickets, and were on our way to the train station in a few minutes. I noticed that the Metro station was incredibly clean compared to the NYC subway. Another difference is that you have to put your ticket in the station again to get out, so make sure you keep your ticket.

We made it easily to the train station and it was a little tricky to figure out where to go next, so allow extra time. We had to ask people two different times where to go, but everyone was very helpful and nice. We made it through customs, grabbed some cappuccinos and a pastry, and waited for our boarding time. We found our assigned seats and the train pulled away from the station right on time. I appreciated how prompt all of the trains were in the UK and France.  Next stop, London!!

I hope you all have enjoyed the Paris part of my anniversary series!! Thank you everyone for taking the time to read these posts and for the kind comments, they are so encouraging and appreciated! Jon and I had the most incredible time in Paris and saw so much of the city! We left wanting to return again, but with the feeling of doing it right and not wanting to change a thing. I’ll be taking a short break from this series and posting more usual content the next two weeks while I work on finalizing my London posts. Stay tuned 🙂


Posts in my Paris and London Anniversary series:

34 thoughts on “Paris – Palais Garnier & Galleries Lafayette

  1. Oh my goodness, the opera house looks like a church! It’s absolutely stunning, and I can imagine that your tour was extremely informative. I probably would’ve been walking around with my mouth hanging open – such a touristy thing to do. I have very much enjoyed touring Paris with you and Jon, and can hardly wait for London!

    1. It was so stunning!! My pictures don’t do it justice. I’m so glad you like this series and can’t wait to share about our time in London!

  2. The Opera House is spectacular and another of my favourite buildings. Glad you made it to Eurostar and your London leg okay. We’re doing something similar in Sep/Oct with a train trip to London via Paris.

    1. Such a spectacular building! I’d love to see a performance one day. It was very easy getting to London via the Eurostar once we knew where to go. I felt very at home once we got off the train in London.

  3. Incroyable! Look up opulence in the dictionary and these buildings will be pictured. This opera house definitely tops La Scala in Milan. It is funny that your guide let his accent slip like a phony French waiter.😄 You ae setting a high bar for your next anniversaries.

    1. This opera house sure was opulent!! Our guide had a bit of a souther twang it seemed. He sounded French, British, and southern all in an hour 🙂 We did set the bar high, next year will be Italy finally!

    1. We definitely had a jam packed itinerary! London was just as busy, I’m excited to see all the places you visit!

  4. The opera house is utterly beautiful, I had no idea of its stunning beauty until reading your post but I’d love to go there sometime. Having a picnic of French baguette and cheese at the foot of the Eiffel Tower seemed the perfect finale to this part of your trip. Looking forward to reading about my own capital city now through your eyes! This was such a great series of posts Lyssy.

    1. You’d love the tour we took! Such a stunning building! We had the perfect final day in Paris, it was such a dream trip! I’m so glad you enjoyed this series and I’m excited for you to read my London posts 🙂

  5. Oh that opera house is just beautiful inside; we did not go in. BUT I do remember that shopping mall and have an almost identical photo of the ceiling. I actually did shop around looking for souvenirs there too.. but I can’t remember if I actually bought anything or not. The Paris metro was the first one I ever rode and I was amazed at the difference between it and the one in NYC!

    1. You’ll have to tour the opera house one day! I was looking for an ornament in the shopping mall and couldn’t find one, I was surprised. They had every other type of souvenir, but no ornaments. The metro was so different from NYC!

  6. I am amazed at all of the elegant details in the opera house! That is pretty sweet too eating baguette by the Eiffel Tower, it sounds pretty magical! I am looking forward to reading your posts about London next 🙂

    1. Such an elegant opera house! It doesn’t get much better than eating a baguette by the Eiffel Tower 🙂 can’t wait to share London soon!

  7. We toured the Palais Garnier in May 2017 and were blown away that we had never been there before. Easily the best tour in Paris. When the tour guide described the swampy soil beneath the building, I told her the soil was squishy. She asked…”What is this squishy?” and then asked if she could use it in her tour going forward. We all had a good laugh. So glad you enjoyed Paris Lyssy. It is an amazing city. Allan

    1. The opera house was such an amazing tour, glad you went on one too! That’s funny, it probably is very squishy down there. I was reading they use the tunnels for military drills. Paris is such an amazing city that we thoroughly enjoyed!!

  8. Wow! Not that we’ve watched the show, but we definitely prefer Lyssy in Paris to Emily in Paris! That staircase at Opéra Garnier is a sight to behold 😳 and Palais Royal and the striped columns is one of our favourite Paris spots! Great post you guys 😄
    All the best
    Stephanie and Jerome

    1. That is so kind of you to say! The staircase is next level for sure. So glad you enjoyed this post and series 🙂 happy travels to you guys too!!

  9. The Palais Garnier… just exquisite, inside and out. Although, I must say, they shouldn’t have been allowed to hang that massive Samsung Galaxy advert over the facade. How inappropriate is that!? The staircases are like something out of a fairytale, I was thinking quite a few movies must have been filmed there. Just had a look and yup, Marie Antoinette and Interview with the Vampire to name a few. A special place, Lyssy.

    1. So exquisite! I agree that billboard shouldn’t be there, it seems so tacky! Does it really need the extra money? Oh wow I haven’t seen those movies but such a spectacular place to film!!

  10. I am so glad people were nice and helpful to you. I recall your mother telling me that the metro riders were not so nice to you when you couldn’t figure out how to get the door open. Loved reading your reports on this trip.

  11. Didn’t realize “Phantom” was based on real events (let alone in a real theater). The shopping center looks almost as elegant as the opera house! But the opera house wins out, especially because it has some of those sculpted figures holding up the light fixtures (like that grand salon in Versailles). Love that detail.

    1. The opera house really looks like it could’ve been a wing at Versailles! I’d love to see a show there one day, just for the experience. I’m not big into opera or ballet, but it would be cool to hear the acoustics. That was the fanciest shopping center I’ve seen!

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