Palais Garnier: A Must-See in Paris

As I was browsing my camera roll last night, I came across a photo of a large staircase with humongous marble columns, topped with heavily detailed capitals, supporting equally gorgeous arches. Carefully crafted sculptures of ladies and a pair of angels grace the landing while age-old chandeliers placed in the most dramatic of poses lend an elegant mood-lighting to the entire area. I picked up my jaw for the second time that I had a minute to stare at this beauty. Folks, I am pleased to introduce the Grand Escalier of the Palais Garnier.

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It’s been a while since I last blogged about our not-so-recent trip to Paris and if not for the photo above, I wouldn’t be reminded of my pile of to-blog. Hee hee.

Also known as Opera Garnier, Palais Garnier is one of the highlights of our trip simply because we were left in awe the whole time we were there; even though it wasn’t originally a part of the itinerary.

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View of the Opera from across the street

As we ascended from the metro tunnel, a couple of guys had their cameras on… us. Oh wait, they’re not looking at us, but on the magnificent Palais Garnier standing so magnificently behind us. Apparently, we photobombed their photographs. Lol.

Approaching the building, our eyes got spoilt for all things wonderful, beautiful, extravagant – all the superlatives you could ever think of. Sculptures depicting forms of art such as drama, music, poetry, painting, sculpture, etc adorn the façade.

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Gaaaah, look at those details!

The entrance to the building is to the Pavillon des Abonnes on the east side.

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Charles Garnier is the architect behind the opulent Opera.

Guided English tours are available on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30AM and 2:00PM. We assembled at Rotonde des Abonnes, also known as Members’ Rotunda, and the tour started promptly at 2, with our friendly guide leading the way.

Early in our tour, the guide explained to us the “to see and be seen” culture in Paris – one of the reasons why people from way back then would go to the Opera. Almost every corner of the palace befits this kind of “socializing”.

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A passage led to the flamboyant, Bassin de la Pythie – a lavish welcome to the opulent staircase. This space is usually where everyone gets through first, followed by the Grand Escalier. Before the performance starts, eyes roam and roll at the sight of the town’s alta and the like.

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Then, we climbed the Grand Escalier, screaming with beauty in every corner.

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The ceiling and floor design is so awesome!

The fiancé and I were on the tail of the troop, thinking that we could get better pictures if we’re behind everyone else. But then, our group walked past a dimly lit corridor and this white and gold gown against a black wall suddenly appeared! It scared the hell outta me!

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Who wouldn’t be scared?

The tour continued to the horseshoe-shaped Auditorium. When asked to sit on the orchestra, I gazed above and my ear stopped listening. My eyes wandered from the gilded balconies to the breathtaking Chagall-painted ceiling.

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View of the auditorium from one of the booths

I thought that was the end of the tour… but wait, there’s more! We swung by the Bibliotheque – Musee de L’Opera, passing by shelves after shelves of books and theatre memorabilia. And then, to this!

The moment we stepped in this room, I thought I was brought in to Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors, except that it has huge columns standing on both sides. The Grand Foyer is dizzyingly beautiful and dazzling in gold!

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One can develop a stiff neck just by looking at these paintings! So much beauty!

The Loggia runs parallel with the foyer and offers an unprecedented view of the Avenue de L’Opera. Can you spot the guy playing violin?

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So that’s about our short and sweet visit to this wonderful Parisian gem. I promise to blog more about France in the coming days/weeks!

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