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Best Historic Venues in Paris

By: Cityseeker
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Odéon Theatre

Modern classics play to a chic crowd here at the Odéon Theatre, high atop the place de l'Odéon, between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. European plays are predominantly staged at the Odéon, in French with subtitles in the original language. The decor in pure Italian style is composed of red and golden loges. This theater was inaugurated in 1782 by Marie-Antoinette, Louis XVIth's wife. The construction of this theater was part of a big Parisian refurbishing effort in the 18th Century.

Paris, France
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Cirque d'hiver Bouglione

This strangely-shaped building was dreamed up by Louis Dejean, owner of the summer circus grounds in the gardens of the Champs-Élysées. Wanting to expand his business year-round, he commissioned Hittorff, the architect of the impressive Gare du Nord, to build what was called the "Cirque Napoléon." Completed in 1854, the 20-sided polygon was greatly admired at the time and innumerable circus acts thrilled the crowds. These days, the building is unfortunately often empty, but the exterior alone is worth a visit, with its elaborate horse sculptures and carousel-like decor.

Paris, France
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Bataclan

The place used to be called the Chinese Palace of the Bataclan under Napoléon III. Now it is simply known as the Bataclan. More or less well-known international music groups of all kinds play in this large, 1200-seat venue that has a lot of charm going for it. Avoid the balcony if possible - the main floor is much more fun! The amplification is at times a bit overwhelming but, after all, we are talking about rock concerts. The Bataclan also welcomes group shows and one-man shows.

Paris, France
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Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens

This classic 2nd arrondissement theater was established in 1855 and flourished under the direction of Jacques Offenbach. It is world renowned as the birthplace of the Offenbach operettas, and to this day it offers a diverse and carefully tailored works of classical and contemporary with styles ranging from opera to concerts and theatrical productions.

Paris, France
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Opéra Comique

Despite a recent tendency towards experimental music, the Opéra Comique, also called Popular Musical Theater, still hosts quite a few of the comic (and other) operas that are its namesake. This comfortable gilded-age theater, the smallest of the major Parisian opera venues, also presents symphonic concerts regularly. The venue is done up in a nice Italian style decor typical of the end of the 19th Century with nice moldings and a lovely fresco on the ceiling.

Paris, France
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Palais Garnier

Palais Garnier, named after the architect who designed it in 1862, was immortalized by writer Gaston Leroux in his book Phantom of the Opera. The architecture is a mixture of baroque, classical, Greek and Napoléonic styles. Adorned with mosaics, the foyer has a cupola decorated by painter Marc Chagall and an impressive Rococo staircase, which leads to the theater's magnificent reception rooms. Outside, four stone statues represent allegories of Music, Lyric Poetry, Lyric Theater, and Dance. Since the opening of the Opéra Bastille, the Palais Garnier has concentrated on dance.

Paris, France
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L’Olympia

L’Olympia is definitely on par with the world's best venues like Carnegie Hall or Madison Square Garden, despite the fact that it seats up to 1,996 spectators. Bruno Coquatrix reopened this hall in 1954. After his death in 1979, his wife and daughter managed the place. Now it has passed hands again. World famous musicians like the Beatles, Liza Minelli, and Céline Dion, to name a few, have performed at this prestigious venue.

Paris, France
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Casino de Paris

The Casino de Paris is not a casino at all but a grand old theater hidden in a little street near the St-Lazare train station, features a varied slate of performances including top-notch musicals, comedians, jazz and rock artists. The theater has recently instituted simultaneous interpretation for the deaf and hearing-impaired. The décor is beautiful and the place is well-known for the quality of its concerts and shows.

Paris, France
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La Cigale

Opened in 1887, La Cigale used to be one of the major dancing places at the beginning of the 19th Century. The decor is typical with its original moldings, partly renewed and painted in red and black, which gives the place a modern touch. Today, this major pop concert venue also hosts musicals, comedians, theater and various other acts in the lively Pigalle neighborhood, not far from the Moulin-Rouge at the foot of Montmartre.

Paris, France
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Elysée Montmartre

Over a century old and still standing, this legendary venue in the heart of Pigalle continues to thrive. Used in the past for different kinds of entertainment including boxing matches, plays, and variety shows, the Élysée has since become Paris' best-loved music venue. Cult groups and well-known artists alike perform here on a regular basis. A big hit with the younger crowd, its retro-style decor provides a unique backdrop for evenings such as the Elysée-Montmartre ball (with a full orchestra) or Open House (techno music) that are frequently organized on weekends.

Paris, France
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La Nef du Grand Palais

The entrance to the Grand Palais is a work of art in itself. La Nef du Grand Palais also known as the Nave is a striking feature of this historical structure. Housing a remarkable glass roof, considered to be one of Europe's largest, this marvelous space was designed by Henri Deglane. After a century, restoration work of the nave was undertaken in 2001 to 2005, under the direction of the renowned architect Alain Charles Perrot. Spread across 13,500 square meters (145312.79 square feet), this nave is used to host various exhibitions and entertaining events.

Paris, France
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Moulin Rouge

Founded in 1889, this legendary cabaret is known to the world over for being the birthplace of the famous French form of dance, can-can, forever immortalized in the paintings of French artist Toulouse-Lautrec. This landmark red windmill near Montmartre attracted the free spirits and artistic souls of Paris' Belle Epoque with its extravagant and risque performances. Although during World War I popularity dropped off, it rebounded greatly with the advent of the glitzy dancer Mistinguette, perhaps the cabaret's most iconic performer, in the 1920s. Today, the red lights of the Moulin Rouge still glow in Pigalle, where visitors can get a taste of Paris' Golden Age.

Paris, France
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