HEART OF PARIS
HEART OF PARIS
LEARN ABOUT THE MONUMENT
IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF HÔTEL GRAMONT
The history of the awesome and majestic Opera Garnier will bring you back to Napoleon III second empire period. On his demand, the architect Charles Garnier undertook the construction of a "new opera house" in 1861 in Haussmann's Paris. Its construction has been lasting for 14 years, avoiding damages in 1870 during the "Commune de Paris". It was inaugurated during the 3rd republic era, under M. Mac Mahon présidency on january 5th 1875. Architectural masterpiece, both functionnal and flamboyant, it was rapidly recognized as the model of Italian style Theatre and still remains today as on of the most beautiful theater in the world.
In 1861, Charles Garnier won an anonymous competition to buid of a new Opera House in Paris. He was then a young architect still unknown by the majority of the public and his experience was limited.
He dedicated 14 years of his life to the accomplishment of this masterpiece. Today it is one the rare monument that bears the name of its creator.
In order to reach easily the Opera from his résidency in the Tuileries, Napoleon III asked to the Paris prefect, Mr. Haussmann to create a straight and wide line, the "avenue de l’Opéra".
Charles Garnier, delighted that such a beautiful perspective would glorify his monument, only had one claim : that no tree be planted on the sidewalks of the avenue, so that nothing would disturb the visitors view!
The new Opera Garnier fits then in the capital renovation project carried out by the Baron Haussmann. It was to be a genuine focal point in the city center, in the same way as les Halles and the Palais Royal.
Linked to the places of power by an avenue leading directly to the Louvre, it benefited from a location in the heart of a major business district and at the crossroads of the Grands Boulevards, hotspot for social and public life.
AN UNDERGROUND LAKE
Around 1862, ground inthe area was swampy. During the preparation of the fondations, Charles Garnier finds a groundwater table less than 8 meters deep from the surface. He does not manage to dry it up and it floods the construction site. He builds a tightwater lining made of concrete, but water still infiltrates. He then shows genius! Instead of fighting water to keep it out of the buiding, Charles Garnier decides to let it in and fill the structure… It will help resist the external pressure, weight the central building and stabilize the all structure.
This solution ended in the creation of an artificial « lake » under the theater, a secrete place that will be a source for collective imagination. For instance it is been described as the living area for « the Phantom of the Opera », the famous character invented by french writer Gaston Leroux in 1910, adapted in plays and musicals.
The Paris Opera offers you the possibility to discover the treasures of the Palais Garnier's public areas.
You may book a self-guided tour or a guided tour any day of the week. The Opera opens between 10am and 5pm. You can make a reservation directly on the Opera Garnier website (link below).
The entrance for the tour is located rue Scribe on the side of the Opera at about 700m from the Hôtel Gramont (check the way).
OPERA DE PARIS WEBSITE