Opera Bastille in Paris

The official names for the Opera Bastille are Opera National de Paris Bastille and the L’Opera de la Bastille, but most people know it by its shortened version of just Opera Bastille and this was originally meant to replace the Opera Garnier.

About Opera Bastille

There has been a lot of controversy about the building, with some loving the modern appearance and others hating it, saying it is too cold and stark, especially in contrast to the elegance and sophistication of the old opera house in Paris called the Opera Garnier, that has an official name of Opera National de Paris Palais Garnier.

But with its sleek and imposing appearance of curves, black stone, concrete and glass, it is a complete contrast to the surrounding area of the Place de la Bastille, and is designed to be a peoples place that moves Paris into modern times, as you can discover from the history of the Opera Bastille.
Opera Bastille building in Paris

However, this is also a practical building with many technological advances and is on a grand scale, as it is one of the largest opera houses in the world and the main hall alone is the largest of any other opera houses in France.

In fact, made from French blue granite that comes from the Brittany region of France, Chinese wood, which is pearwood from China and Italian marble along with the glass, concrete and black stone, there is not just the main concert hall that has 2,700 seats, but there are actually two additional concert halls at the Opera Bastille.  The smallest and the most intimate only has a capacity of 250 seats, and it is this smaller concert hall that usually holds chamber music performances.

The imposing structure of the Opera Bastille is 80 metres high, but this does include 30m that is below ground level and one of the notable things, is that the same materials are used on the inside as well as the outside.  Mind you, with all the glass utilised, you can get some spectacular views of the Place de la Bastille with the Colonne de Juillet or July Column, and you can even get to see the top of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

One big plus to this new Opera house is, through the use of modern technology, all 2700 seats in the main concert hall of the Opera National de Paris Bastille have exactly the same acoustic quality and an uninterrupted view of the stage, so that you can get to see and hear everything that is going on within the production.
Also the productions seem almost seamless between scene changes, due to the fact that the backstage area is nine times the size of the stage itself, and an entire stage set can be assembled in the equivalent of six floors below the stage and then elevated quickly into place, plus there is a scenery turntable.

There is a mobile and adjustable orchestra pit that can house up to 130 musicians, a rehearsal stage, of course the dressing rooms, but also costume and accessory workshops plus much more.

And in 2007, the most recent addition was that of a large clock face from the makers of haute horlogerie, which is basically a term used for companies that produce high class often hand made or unique watches and time pieces.  The oldest manufacturer of Haute Horlogerie in the world, called Vacharon Constantin, gifted this incredible timepiece to the Opera National de Paris for the Opera Bastille with its very impressive dimensions of 7 metres wide by 2.50 metres tall.

It is composed of 56 pieces of mouth blown coloured glass and display a world map, with clocks showing different time zones throughout the work including Paris, New York and Beijing.  But even if you do not get a chance to attend the Opera Bastille, then do not worry, as this is located on the ground floor and can also be viewed from outside the building.
Seating inside Opera Bastille

Western facade of Opera Bastille

Performances at Opera Bastille

The productions held at the Opera Bastille are both popular and critically acclaimed, and the multi-functional performance space allows the venue to play host to various concert and dance programs throughout the year.

However, due to the quality of the performances held here, you normally have to book your seats months in advance, although there may still be some tickets available on the day, which is often due to late cancellations, and if so, you can purchase these spare tickets at the Opera Bastille from 2:30pm through to 6.30pm on the day of the performance.

The Box Office for tickets to the Opera Bastille is located at 130 Rue de Lyon and the performances are normally held of an evening, although tickets can be purchased online in advance. Ranging in cost greatly depending upon the performance and what category of seating you choose, here you can see the Opera Bastille seating plan with its categories of seats from Optima by the stage to Category 10 at the back of the top galleries.
Steps and entance for Opera Bastille

Guided tours of Opera Bastille

The guided tour of the Opera Bastille includes a visit to the public foyers, the main auditorium, plus the backstage areas and the tour lasts just over an hour.

These guided tours are only held at certain times on specific dates, but you can telephone +33 (0) 1 71 25 24 23 to find out the schedule, between the hours of 9am and 7pm on a Monday to Saturday.

For individuals the tour tickets can be purchased from the box office 10 minutes prior to the start of the tour, or in advance between the hours of midday and 6:30pm from the Bastille Opera desks. However, if you are looking at visiting the Opera with a group of 15 or more, then you have to make a reservation request, and in writing.

As of 2020, the cost of entry for the guided tour is €17, but a reduced cost is applicable to those under the age of 25, yet we would like to point out that the visit is not accessible to the disabled, those with reduced mobility or children under the age of 10.

In addition, closed-toe shoes are mandatory, so no sandals, etc, plus access to the auditorium and the workspaces can be restricted or denied due to technical and/or artistic reasons and latecomers will not be permitted after the tour has started. You will find that the meeting point with the tour guide is Bastille Opera, Artists and Staff entry, 120 Rue de Lyon.
Glass covered areas inside Opera Bastille

Outside stepped architecture of Opera Bastille

Visiting Opera Bastille

Located in the 12th Arrondissement of Paris, by the Place de la Bastille square, when utilising the public transport in Paris, you will find that the nearest Metro station is literally right at the opera house named the Bastille stop, which can be accessed via lines 1, 5 and 8.

There are also several Bus lines that will get you within easy walking distance of the Opera Bastille including the numbers 24, 29, 57, 63, 69, 76, 86, 87 and 91 along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via Lines N01, N02, N11, N16, N31 and N144, and you can discover all the various Paris public transport options via our how to get to Bastille and Opera Bastille page.

But if you have your own means of transport, then there is a car park called the Opera Bastille at 34 Rue de Lyon, which provides a 6 hour fixed rate ticket so that you can attend a performance at the opera, plus there is also a taxi rank located at the historical square as well.