With two locations — Palais Garnier and Bastille — the Opéra National de Paris is a must for any fan of French culture visiting the City of Lights. But don’t just content yourself with wandering through the lobby of Garnier or eating a galette on the steps of the Bastille: you can get tickets to any performance for as little as 5 euros. These tickets are called sans visibilité — obstructed view tickets — and they are not for the unadventurous. To get them, you have to go in person to the ticket office and ask for them in French. You may have to wait in line and you may have to show up shortly before the performance you’re hoping to see (hear). But for lovers of live performance at any cost, it’s worth it.
When requesting sans visibilité tickets at Palais Garnier, expect to be met with eye-rolls and warnings like “these are standing only,” and “you won’t be able to see a thing.” These words may be true -- or not. If you're lucky, you might end up scoring a velvet-covered box, high above the stage. With a fuzzy bench, a couple square meters of floor space and no one but me around, you can sit, stand or lounge as you like throughout the performance. Seated, you can't see but are still surrounded by the glorious music in comfort. Standing, you can stretch my legs while enjoying a breathtaking view of the stage.
Palais Garnier tickets sans visibilité are currently 10 Euro ($11), and you will need to show up half an hour before the start of the show you want to attend. At Bastille it’s a little trickier: there are only 32 spots available and we were told they’re all standing only and completely obstructed. On the plus side, if it’s true and turns out to be miserable, you’ll only pay 5 Euro ($5.50) for the experience.
Photo by Alain Apaydin/ABACAPRESS.COM