Paris is renowned for its cultural offerings, and the number of theater buildings is a testament to this. While there are many more theaters in Paris (more than 100!), the overview below shows some of the best known theater and opera buildings in the City of Light.
The Comédie Française, France’s oldest theater group, was founded in 1680 and originally housed in the Hôtel de Guénégaud. In 1799, during the French Revolution, they moved to their current location, known as the ‘Salle Richelieu’. This theatre was originally built by architect Victor Louis as the opera house of the Palais Royal.
This modern opera house opened on July 14, 1989, at the site of the former Bastille fortress to commemorate the fall of the Bastille 200 years earlier. The enormous glass building, designed by Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, was built as a replacement of the 19th-century Opéra Garnier.
This grand building was designed by Charles Garnier for Napoleon III. It opened in 1875 – thirteen years after the start of the construction – as the Opéra Garnier. When the Opera de la Bastille opened in 1989, most operas moved to the new opera house and the Opera Garnier was renamed Palais Garnier.
This Neoclassical theatre was built in 1782 for the Comédie Française at the site of the former Hôtel de Condé. The building burned down in 1807 but was rebuilt that same year.
Built in 1862 by French architect Jean-Antoine-Gabriel Davioud, this is one of two theatre buildings at the Place du Châtelet. This theatre was once owned by actress Sarah Bernhardt, for whom it was named until the second World War.
This theatre was built in 1913 after an Art Deco design by French architect Auguste Perret. It is located in the Avenue Montaigne, a prestigious side street of the Champs-Élysées.
One of two theaters built in 1862 by Jean-Antoine-Gabriel Davioud at the Place du Châtelet, the other being the Théâtre de la Ville. The theater is named after a fortress – the Grand Châtelet – that protected the bridge leading to the Île de la Cité, the historic center of Paris.
This circular building, originally known as the Rotonde du Panorama National, replaced an earlier circular building at the same site near the Champs-Élysées. Completed in 1860, it was a popular venue throughout the 19th century. Decorations on the outside of the building commemorate Napoleon’s victories.
The dodecagonal shaped Théâtre Marigny in the Champs-Élysées gardens was designed by Charles Garnier, the architect who designed the famous Opéra Garnier. It was built in 1881 as a panorama, it was only converted into a theatre in 1925.
This theater has a room with a capacity of 1,200 visitors in the east wing of the Palais de Chaillot at Trocadéro, built for the World Fair of 1937. It shares the building with the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, an architecture museum.
The Opéra Comique is housed in a magnificent building, known as the Salle Savart. Its main facade is decorated with statues and ornaments. The interior is lush as well with an abundance of red velvet, gilded ornaments and beautiful frescoes. Opéras Comique – light operas where sung arias alternate with spoken dialogue – and concerts are performed here regularly.
The Théâtre Paris-Villette was created in 1986 and is housed in the former Pavillon de la Bourse, a mid-nineteenth century pavilion at the Villette Park. The pavilion was originally built as an auction house for livestock. The theater focuses on contemporary plays.