Study Abroad Paris Style # 5: A Night at the Opera


This is a 5th, and final post on my trip to Paris.  I have so many more amazing things I could write about, including a handful of  famous locations I have not even talked about yet,  but I feel it is time to move on to more recent travel adventures. The upcoming year will not be as full of worldly adventure as the last, but I have plenty of great places to explore right here in my home country.

Le Palais Garnier was a double treat as I was able to experience it two times on my trip. Once as a grand night out at the opera, and once as a tour of the historic building  with my art history  class. I knew nothing about the Palais Garnier when I arrived in Paris, but fell instantly in love with it as soon as I entered the building and saw its famous Grand Staircase in beautiful marble.  At one time the staircase was the society social center of Paris where everyone who was anyone would come to “see and be seen.”


My roommate on the trip  was an opera fan and asked me if I would like to join her for the night. It has been a good 12 years from the last time I experienced an opera so I jumped at the chance. I did not exactly pack for the opera when I left for my trip, so I  pulled out the only dress I had and made the best of it.  Note for self: next time you go to Paris, take something for the evening! The opera was in Italian with subtitles in French, and we had no idea what  was going on, but the sound of the music set in the most grand of grand theaters made it one magical experience anyway.


After parading  up and down  the Palais Garnier’s famous Grand Staircase  a few time with a couple of my classmates, we presented our tickets and were ushered to a little row of doors. To our surprise  they opened into  the most delicious red velvet line room I had ever seen. The room had 6 small red velvet chairs and  looked out over the red and gold Baroque styled auditorium.


The center of the auditorium sparkles with light from a large  hanging crystal chandelier that is sounded by a beautiful  Marc Chagall painting that mixes in perfectly with the Beaux-Arts and Baroque details of the building.  Chagall’s painting was installed in 1964 and shows scenes from 14 operas.


During intermission my roommate and I met up with one of our classmates to enjoy sipping drinks in the Grand Foyer.  This golden room’s  beauty is seducing with painted ceilings and hanging  chandeliers.  I personally found this  room with its ornate details to be much more pretty and enjoyable  than Versailles Hall of Mirrors.  Here we could relax, enjoy, and actually take part in the  ambiance  of the room as it was built to be used.   My roommate and I tried very hard to catch a great photo of us in this amazing place with our smart phones. But no luck.  Next time I will remember to bring my camera.


On our class tour of the Opera House the next day, we discovered that the lower level holds a museum of opera and ballet costumes and sketches form the past. As a fashion student I greatly enjoyed getting to see the details in the sketches and costumes.

garnier-9One  element I discovered on my trip to Paris is how  the original goals of the architecture of the past often still hold true today.  Charles Garnier  built his opera house in 1860 to be stage for all of society to play on.  Patrons did not just go to sit and see the opera, they became players in the event of “going to” the opera.  Garnier  achieved this  with careful attention to each and every detail in his opera house. Today opera patrons still continue to play in the event of going to Garniers opera house as the they snap  photos of friends on smartphones and upload in a modern game of ” to see and be seen”. Who wouldn’t want to be photographed in this beautiful building!

If I ever get a chance to visit Paris again, a night at the Palais Garnier Opera House will be on my list of things to do.

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