Despite living next to it for a month, and taking classes across the street from it, I had never been inside the opera house.
It's the Haussmann Centerpiece of the city. A grand monument to the Parisian art and culture scene, no expense was spared in its creation. The architect, Charles Garnier, was an unknown at the time when his design was chosen to grace the city.
The interior was as grand and as ornate as Versailles. Statues and paintings and marble and frescos and velvet and gold.
While I do keep meaning to see a show here, you can buy a ticket during the day when an event isn't going on and just walk around with your mouth agape.
Over the years, the grand staircase became a kind of theater in itself. This was the place to be seen! Unless, of course, you were a Phantom, in which case you were rowing around the lake in the basement and creeping up on the opera stars, or whatever you do.
A fantastic surprise: Marc Chagall painted the ceiling mural, centered around the famous 7-ton chandelier.
It's obscenely opulent. It's hard to imagine any modern day temple to the arts anywhere nearly as grand as this.
The view from the balcony, looking down Avenue d'Opera, which was left purposely treeless so the view of the Opera House would not be obscured.