Opéra Garnier: An insider's guide

Eat, drink, shop and sightsee like a local around Paris's beautiful, Belle-Epoque 'wedding cake'...



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The Opéra Garnier is a mini-city unto itself, with a museum, gourmet restaurant, one of the world's lovliest theatres and even an underground lake (the inspiration for Gaston Leroux's 'Phantom of the Opera') now used for specialised underwater fireman training. Its location between department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, the Louvre and the Japanese quarter by rue St-Anne, makes it one of the city's most visited monuments, so if you want to escape the tourists, you have to be inventive.

We recommend heading ten-minutes eastwards on foot towards Grands Boulevards, or northwards into the heart of the 9th arrondissement where young crowds of Parisians are setting up shop, bringing with them a trail of cool boutiques, bars, cafés and attractions. Here's our pick of the bunch....

For more information on the Palais Garnier, click on the following links: the Musée de l'Opéra - programme and reservations - the Restaurant de l'Opéra - the Palais Garnier

Around Opéra Garnier...

Attractions: Les Passages Couverts

  • Critics choice

In 18th and 19th century Paris, the areas around today’s Grands Boulevards donned themselves with glass-roofed shopping galleries known as les passages couverts (covered passages). These

  1. 2e & 9e
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Tea Room: Zenzoo

Between 2.30pm and 7pm this tiny Taiwanese restaurant doubles as a 'tea bar', the only place in Paris that serves China's famous tapioca cocktails - sometimes known as 'bubble tea', they are served

  1. 13 rue Chabanais, 2nd
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Restaurant: Chez Miki

There are plenty of Japanese restaurants to choose from along nearby rue Ste-Anne, but none is as original - nor as friendly - as this tiny bistro run entirely by women, next to the square Louvois.

  1. 5 rue de Louvois, 2e
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Restaurant: Les Fils à Maman

In the up-and-coming neighbourhood near the Folies Bergère a band of five ‘mothers’ boys’ has created a restaurant evoking their mums’ home cooking. Even the mums themselves get into the

  1. 7 bis Rue Geoffroy-Marie, 9e
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Restaurant: Supernature

Who said eating healthily was boring? Certainly not the many regulars who flock each afternoon (and on Sunday for brunch) to this tiny canteen in the 9th arrondissement. There’s no overriding

  1. 12 rue de Trévise, 9e
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Burger Bar: Big Fernand

A brilliant little burger joint, which takes the traditional American burger and gives it the French terroir treatment. Nowhere’s been left out, with regional specialities from all over France

  1. 55 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 9e
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Bar: Les 36 Corneil

Note the address well, because there’s no other sign to indicate the whereabouts of this tapas bar, opened at the end of 2010 by a chap called Cornélius (whence the name). But once you do find

  1. 36 rue de Rochechouart, 9e
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Club: Rex Club

The Rex's new sound system puts over 40 different sound configurations at the DJ's fingertips, and has proved to be a magnet for top turntable stars. Once associated with iconic techno pioneer

  1. 5 boulevard Poissonnière, 2e
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Club: Le Social Club

Set right in the hub of the city's club activity around Grands Boulevards, this electro venue has some of the hippest acts from the French and international scene, thanks to its owner's

  1. 142 rue Montmartre, 2e
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Shop: Gabrielle Geppert

If Didier Ludot is too intimidating, visit Gabrielle Geppert's shop, where much fun can be had

  1. 31 & 34 galerie Montpensier, 1st
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