Opéra de Paris Garnier
When we come to Place de l’Opéra we cross another of Haussmann’s boulevards, Boulevard des Capucines, go past the famous Café de la Paix to reach the Opéra, which we have had in view the whole way.
The palace was built in 1862-1875 by the architect Charles Garnier after he won the first price in a competition sponsored by Napoleon III. The Opéra has always been criticized as an architectural mixture of styles. Opponents profess to have found in it aspects of all styles in history. Nevertheless, it is accepted that Garnier was better at such mixtures than most others.
The best-known part of this impractical building is the staircase in the lobby, especially designed to make the ornately dressed guests look splendid on them. They are in itself worth a visit. Also famous is the stage which can take 450 artists at the same time. And the ceiling painted by the 20th C. Russian painter Marc Chagall, contrasting sharply with everything else.
The centre of opera and ballet has until recently been here. Now the opera has moved to a new building at Place de la Bastille, also considered horrible by critics.