Paris Opera Garnier Tours

Visiting the inside of the Paris Opera without having to pay to attend a show is possible: I tell you how to take a backstage tour.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

8 min read

Paris Opera Garnier Tours

Opera Garnier | ©Caleb Maxwell

Despite its endless list of spectacular monuments, perhaps the greatest emblem of Paris is the Opera House. Today it is possible to visit it without paying for a show, so there is no excuse to miss it.

Buy tickets for the Garnier Opera House

Aerial view of the back of the Opera
Aerial view of the back of the Opera

If you choose to buy tickets to the Opera online, I recommend that you do so well in advance. Children under the age of 10 and Paris Pass card holders will receive free admission.

Although the Paris Opera remains open from Monday to Sunday, there may be specific days of exceptional closures that you can check on the official website.

Attending a show at the Paris Opera House

It is one thing to visit the Paris Opera building and another to attend one of its performances. Choosing the second option (or the first one) will give you access to the main hall at the time of the performance of your choice, but not to visit the rest of the building (in fact, the shows are outside the opening hours to the public).

If you want to buy tickets for any show at the Paris Opera you can do it at the box office (several days in advance) or on the official website of the Opera Garnier.

Visiting hours of the Garnier Opera House

Views of the Opera Garnier in Paris
Views of the Opera Garnier in Paris

The opening hours for visiting the Paris Opera is from 10 am to 5 pm from Monday to Sunday, but there are holidays when the visit can be cancelled. The guided tour usually lasts an hour and a half, but if you visit the building on your own with an hour will be enough to see it in depth. This will allow you to combine the visit to the Paris Opera with other activities or museums you want to see during your trip.

I recommend the last pass (at 16:30) to take advantage of the afternoon in the vicinity and to leave the morning free to visit other places of interest such as the Louvre Museum that do require more hours of visit and waiting.

Book a guided tour of the Opera Garnier

Visit the Opéra Garnier with children

Garnier Opera House| ©Gwen King
Garnier Opera House| ©Gwen King

You can visit the Opera with children, but many guided tours do not accept children under the age of five. Even so, in my opinion the Opera is one of the most appropriate places in Paris to visit with the family because of the average length of the visit and because the little ones will not get tired in long hours of waiting as they can in other museums.

Visit the Opera Garnier with the Paris Pass

Opera Garnier seats and boxes| ©Sheila Sund
Opera Garnier seats and boxes| ©Sheila Sund

If the Paris Opera is one of the buildings you are sure to visit during your trip, you may want to get the Paris Pass. This is a tourist pass of the city with which you will enter for free to different monuments and museums in Paris (among which is included the Opera building) and with which you will get discounts on many others.

With the Paris Pass you can visit the Paris Opera House free of charge and also take guided tours inside the Opera House. In my experience, the Paris Pass is one of the most comprehensive city passes available; considering all the sites the city has to visit, using it (regardless of the days you choose) pays off, but it also requires more planning of your visit to Paris in order to get the most out of it.

I have written a guide on Paris Pass full of tips on when to use it, its advantages and disadvantages and everything you need to know before booking it.

Book a guided tour at the Opera Garnier

Organize your visit to the Opéra Garnier in Paris

Stained glass ceiling of the restaurant of the luxurious Galeries Lafayette, a few meters from the Opera Garnier.| ©Les Corpographes
Stained glass ceiling of the restaurant of the luxurious Galeries Lafayette, a few meters from the Opera Garnier.| ©Les Corpographes

How to get to the Opera Garnier

The Paris Opera is located in the Quartier de L'Opera, a central neighborhood north of the Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre Museum. This is a stately neighborhood ideal for shopping and leisurely strolling without a large influx of tourists and can be reached either by walking from nearby neighborhoods on the north bank of Paris (the Louvre or the Champs Elysees) or by metro (line 7, line 8 and line 3).

Where to eat

If you want to eat in the neighborhood before or after your visit you will find both simple restaurants and elegant cafes where you can enjoy French food without the crowds of other busier areas of the capital. However, I recommend you take into account the French timetables (lunchtime is usually between 12 and 14 pm and dinners start from 19 pm) and book in advance to avoid waiting.

Ana's Traveller Tip

Take advantage of being in the area of the Opera Granier to take a tour of the luxurious 'passages' and shopping arcades in the area.

Walk around the area

Views from the rooftop of the Paris Opera House
Views from the rooftop of the Paris Opera House

The Paris Opera is a symbol of the lifestyle of affluent Paris, which is reflected in the surroundings of the building and the covered shopping arcades that surround it. One of the most practical options to get to know the area is to choose a tour that combines a guided visit to the opera with a walking tour of the surrounding area and a visit to the Palais Royal, located between the Opera and the Tulleries districts.

Galeries Lafayette and its rooftop terrace

If you are a shopping lover, this will be one of your paradises. Take note of the location to come back later to leisurely stroll through this kind of shopping mall and ask your guide which is the best place to buy original gifts. During the visit you will go up to the roof to contemplate the views of the area; prepare your camera.

From the roofs of the Galeries Lafayette you will have a panoramic view of the whole city and you can enjoy them while they tell you stories related to the Parisian high society and the scandals of the nobility.

Place des Pyramides

One of the many iconic squares of the French capital located in the 1st arrondissement of the city and presided over by the equestrian statue of Joan of Arc. No doubt the guide will take advantage of the first stop of this tour to tell you the mythical story of the Maid of Lorraine.

Theatre du Palais Royal

The Royal Palace of Paris was the home of Cardinal Richelieu in the early 17th century. It currently houses the Council of State and the Ministry of Culture among other places symbols of the political organization of the country, but its real attraction are the covered galleries full of stores and art galleries. You will visit them during the tour, but I recommend that you reserve another day to go shopping in the area.

Galerie Vivienne

Galerie Vivienne| ©Benh LIEU SONG
Galerie Vivienne| ©Benh LIEU SONG

This is one of the most iconic indoor galleries in Paris. Its glass ceilings and the decoration of the establishments that compose it earned it to be declared a historical monument of the city.

Temple La Madeleine

This Greek-style church is one of the most visited in the capital. Its 52 Corinthian columns and the bas-reliefs of the bronze doors showing the Ten Commandments stand out. An ideal stop to learn a little more about the role that religion has played in Paris over the centuries and how the affairs of the church could be related to those of Parisian high society.

Place de la Concorde

This is the second largest square in France and is located at the beginning of the Avenue des Champs Elysees. Right now you will see in the center of this square the Luxor obelisk donated by Egypt to the city of Paris, however, a few centuries ago, what was in its center was a statue of Louis XV erected to celebrate his improvement after a long illness.

If you like the stories of the French Revolution, this is the moment when your guide will tell you all of them because the square was one of the bloodiest scenes of the time; it was the site of the famous guillotine that beheaded personalities such as Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI or Robespierre.

If after this tour you are left wanting more, the Opera district still has things to offer. This is the case of the Grévin Museum, the wax museum of Paris that houses the famous distorted mirrors, the Palais de la Bourse, the neoclassical building where the economic activity of the city is concentrated, or the specialty stores of truffles, champagne and caviar located in the Place de la Madeleine.

Book a guided tour of the Opéra Garnier

What to see at the Opéra Garnier in Paris

Opera Garnier staircase| ©Valerian Guillot
Opera Garnier staircase| ©Valerian Guillot

The Paris Opera is a building that is already worth seeing from the outside; both during the day to appreciate all the architectural details of this neo-baroque building, and at night when it is one of the most powerful attractions of the illuminated Paris. If the facade already has signs of luxury and ostentation, going inside the Opera is like entering a small Versailles.

The roof

Tickets to the Paris Opera will give you access to the place that inspired Leroux's well-known play "The Phantom of the Opera". The ceiling of the auditorium, where operas and ballets are still performed today, is one of the main details to observe during your visit.

The decoration

The decoration of the corridors and lobbies in which the main figures of the Parisian elite of the 19th century moved is made of gold leaf, crystal chandeliers and mosaics; a symbol of the opulence of the time and of how the city of Paris was one of the European nerve centers in terms of society and culture.

The staircase

The white marble staircase that connects the two levels of the building is also a key part of the visit to the interior of the building designed by architect Charles Garnier during the reign of Napoleon III.

If you enjoy visiting the Paris Opera, you will also like

Palace of Versailles| ©lameato feliz
Palace of Versailles| ©lameato feliz

For me, walking the halls of the Paris Opera was very similar to the opulence and grandeur that can be seen at the Palace of Versailles. Besides the style of luxurious decoration present in both tourist spots, I think it is because the two buildings are conveying the same message: the abundance of a society on the one hand and that of an absolutist monarchy on the other.

Paris has always been the mirror in which Europe looked at itself and I think that, although each in its own way, both buildings show it.

If you liked the style of the Paris Opera, you will certainly enjoy the Palace of Versailles. Note that the tour is a full-day excursion and that it is located on the outskirts of Paris. You can buy your tickets in advance and choose which mode of visit you want to do and you can also read more about it in this article I have written about. Versailles Day Trips from Paris.

If in addition to this, you want to complete your trip to Paris with a cultural visit, I advance you that Paris has one of the richest museum offerings in Europe.

As their variety can be overwhelming when choosing which museums to visit, I have compiled my favorites in this guide on Museums ParisAlthough you will probably end up choosing the Louvre, one of the most popular museums in the world. I leave you here this article about Paris Louvre Museum Tickets and Tours: how to buy, prices and discounts in case you want to know more.

Book a guided tour of the Opera Garnier

Frequently asked questions

  • Is it possible to take photos inside the Opera Garnier?

    Yes, photos without flash are allowed inside the Opera House.

  • Is there a subway tour of the Opera Garnier?

    In case you are thinking of visiting the infamous subway residence of the Phantom of the Opera, unfortunately it is not open to the public. However, due to renovations that have taken place over the years, not much of the mysterious atmosphere that the place had at the beginning of the 20th century remains.

  • What can I do after visiting the Opera Garnier?

    You can go shopping at Galeries Lafayette, or visit the elegant Fragonard Perfume Museum, or try some of the best chocolates in Paris at Lindt Boutique.

  • Is there a dress code for attending the Paris Opera?

    For the Opera tour there is no special requirement, but if you are going to see a play, I recommend a more elegant style (fleeing from flip-flops, shorts and tourist attire).