This is the Palais Garnier, the home of the Paris Opera. It’s one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Built between 1861 and 1875, it was started by Napoleon III (Louis Napoleon) as a symbol of French cultural ascendancy in the 19th century, but he was no longer in power–and his French Empire had been turned into a republic–by the time it was completed. Phantom of the Opera–the original 1910 novel, the various movie adaptations over the years, and the 1980s Andrew Lloyd Weber musical–take place here. When you think of grand opera, the Palais Garnier is almost by definition what you think of.
I chose to feature the Paris opera house in the latest chapter (Chapter 15) of my World War II spy thriller serial, The Armored Satchel. Since the very early days of planning the story I realized I couldn’t have the story set in Paris without having the characters dress to the nines in evening wear and attend the opera. I do know that the Paris Opera continued operating while the Germans occupied France (1940-1944), but I don’t know if there was an opera performed at the time it’s shown in the story. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be Paris without the Palais Garnier.
If you’re getting bored of Paris, don’t worry–the action will soon shift to Berlin!