Palais Garnier - Opera National de Paris#10 in Best Things To Do in Paris
A masterpiece of architectural opulence, the Opéra Garnier – also known as the Palais Garnier – still exudes the same enigmatic atmosphere it radiated in the late 1800s. This palpable sense of intrigue and mystery that permeates the opera is due in part to its awe-inspiring Old World interiors as well as Gaston Leroux, the author of "Phantom of the Opera," for which the Garnier served as inspiration. Leroux claimed the phantom was indeed real, successfully incorporating real life opera occurrences (such as the chandelier falling and killing a bystander) into his fiction. The Garnier's lack of a robust historical record, as well as Leroux's writing talents, have left many wondering if there really was a dweller that lurked beneath the opera. Staff have claimed otherwise, but say with the opera's very real underground lake, it's easy to see how the story could be so convincing. Without Napoleon III, who was responsible for commissioning the opera, Leroux's tale would have never come to fruition.
The best way to fully experience the Palais Garnier is by purchasing a ballet or opera ticket. Remember to book your tickets several months in advance, as performances are highly coveted. If you won't be in town for a performance or aren't up for forking over the oftentimes high price of a performance, you can explore the building's magnificent interiors on your own. Travelers who did so found the insides of the building to be so grand they couldn't believe their eyes. Visitors said every part of the Palais Garnier, down to the smallest of nooks and crannies, was completely stunning, with some comparing it to the kind of extravagance you'd find in Versailles. Because of the opera's popularity, you're likely going to have to wait in line to get tickets as well as enter the attraction.
The Palais Garnier is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but closes at 1 p.m. on days of matinee performances. Unguided admission costs 11 euros ($12.31) for adults and 7 euros ($7.83) for students and those younger than 25. The opera also offers guided tours for 15.50 euros ($17.47) for adults and with discounted rates for children and students. Guided English tours occur every day at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. You can also purchase an audio guide for 5 euros (around $5.60). The Opéra Garnier stands just north of the Louvre and can be reached from the Opéra (métro lines 3, 7 and 8) and Chaussée d'Antin - La Fayette (lines 7 and 9) stations. You'll also find bookstores and gift shops, as well as a restaurant on-site. For more information on general visits, check out the Palais Garnier website.
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#1 Notre-Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris)
Note that the cathedral sustained significant damage as a result of a fire on April 15, 2019. Its wooden roof and spire collapsed during the fire. It remains closed until further notice.
Like the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is seen as a Parisian icon. Located right along the picturesque River Seine, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is considered a Gothic masterpiece and is often regarded as one of the best Gothic cathedrals of its kind in the world. Construction of the famous cathedral started in the late 10th century and final touches weren't made until nearly 200 years later. And once you get an eyeful of the cathedral yourself, you'll start to understand why it took so long.
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