Paris is a cultural Mecca, so a visit to the city isn’t complete without seeing a few live performances. And if you’re wondering where exactly you should see these concerts, then I’ve got you covered!
Many buildings in Paris are strikingly beautiful, but The Palais Garnier is even more magnificent than most. And it straddles an underground lake, serving as the inspiration for The Phantom of the Opera.
And you can’t help but be inspired when you visit it.
Greg and I took a guided tour where we were told true stories of the theater’s history, from mischievous happenings to society scandals. I certainly recommend taking the tour, as it was fun knowing these facts when we later visited for a performance.
During the tour you can peek into the auditorium. We were lucky enough to watch a ballet rehearsal the day we went!
The theater decor is striking, especially in this room which was inspired by the hall of mirrors at Versailles!
And the best part of the tour? Being shown the box that’s reserved for the Phantom himself. Apparently guests used to fear booking this box due to superstition; they didn’t want the Phantom visiting them during a performance!
We were so amazed at the Palais Garnier that after our tour we went home and booked a performance at the venue. We returned on our last day in Paris for a chamber music concert featuring compositions by Joseph Haydn and Max Bruch.
By attending a performance, we were able to get a full view of the magnificent theater.
We sat in one of the plush red velvet boxes. Luckily the Phantom didn’t show up during the concert, nor did the chandelier fall. But the music was wonderful, and I’ve never seen an audience give so many standing ovations.
For Palais Garnier’s performance schedule, click here.
The Moulin Rouge is a quintessential French institution. There you’ll see a review-type performance that’s a lot like the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, but with less talent and more tits. That’s right, the dancers are pretty much always topless, although the dancing wasn’t at all sexual, so it wouldn’t be completely awkward to see it with your family, I promise.
Even though I’m referring to them as dancers, the performers had very little dance training. The dancing was horrific, in fact, leaving me wondering why it’s so difficult to find trained dancers in a city like Paris. The opening number featured the worst dancing in the show and was an awful way to start the evening. When the number began I sat there thinking, “Oh dear god, what did we spend money on?!”
Now if you’re wondering why I added the Moulin Rouge to this list, the show did have some spectacular elements, including incredible costumes that dazzled onstage. Plus there were special acts showcasing feats I never knew were possible, let alone had seen before. Although there was an act involving massive snakes that I’ve blocked out of my mind due to my fear of snakes!
Seeing a performance at the Moulin Rouge is certainly something you should do once in your life, it’s just that iconic. And when you do go, choose the VIP Show tickets at 9pm or 11pm. Those tickets are about €210 each and give you amazing seats (our table was in the front row of the balcony), a generous gift bag, plus macarons and a bottle of champagne. We even had our own host, Jeremy, who escorted us around the theater and to a waiting taxi at the end of the evening. The Moulin Rouge is another venue where it would be a pain to find a taxi yourself, so having Jeremy was a tremendous convenience.
There’s no need to pay €420 each for the 7pm Dinner Show tickets, in my opinion, because the actual Moulin Rouge performance doesn’t begin until 9pm. Instead for an extra €200 you’re treated to lounge music that would be more appropriate on an elevator, and I can’t imagine the food is worth the additional money. It’s much better to do what we did and eat dinner before.
For Moulin Rouge’s performance schedule, click here.
This is perhaps my favorite concert venue in Paris. It’s intimate and the space itself is exquisite. If you haven’t seen these pictures then you’re missing out!
Most tickets for concerts at Saint-Chapelle are divided into two tiers. Tier 1 is for the front section of the room and Tier 2 is for the back part of the room. In this instance I’d actually recommend Tier 2. Not only are the tickets cheaper, but the further back you are the more you can take in the stunning atmosphere of the cathedral. And with classical music concerts it’s not like you really need to be up close to see anything. If you’ve seen one person play the violin you’ve seen them all!
The evening we went we heard music by Vivaldi and it couldn’t have been more beautiful. The score combined with the setting made the entire experience magical.
Here’s a glimpse of what the concert was like:
For Sainte-Chapelle’s performance schedule, click here.
My list is an array of different venues, that’s for sure, but each one is special in its own right. And if you see performances at all of them then you’ll have the perfect blend of Parisian experiences.
(You can find all of my France travel posts here).