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Porte St-Martin
© Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

Opéra and Grands Boulevards area guide

These lively Right Bank quartiers are full with grand architecture, historical theatres and buzzing bars


Night owls know this part of the Right Bank well: Grands Boulevards and Opéra are the quartiers where clubs, theatres and bars have reeled in pleasure-seekers for centuries. The area got its look when Baron Haussmann carved his iconic boulevards through Paris’s old centre during the Second Empire. Charles Garnier’s wedding cake (Palais Garnier) is there as a gilded centre-piece, but this is also where you’ll find the Rex Club (temple to electronica), David Lynch’s much talked about Silencio club, numerous Irish pubs and comedy theatres. History-wise, the district’s got a lot going for it too  it was near today’s Hôtel Scribe that the Lumière brothers held the world’s first public film screening in 1895.

Further down the boulevard towards Place de la Madeleine, the Olympia concert hall was a legendary venue for Piaf, the Beatles and anyone in chanson. And just opposite at N° 35, pioneering portrait photographer Nadar opened a studio in the 1860s, frequented by Offenbach and Doré. In 1874 it even hosted the very first Impressionist exhibition. While you’re in the area, make sure to catch the Opéra Garnier’s ceiling, painted by Chagall in 1964, and don’t forget to free your inner shopaholic in the Grands Magasins (department stores) Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, which line boulevard Haussmann just behind. At Christmas the crowds line up to admire the sparking window displays, so sharpen your elbows.

The best things to see and do in Opéra and Grands Boulevards

Les passages couverts

Les passages couverts

Step back in time with a walk through these 18th century glass-roofed shopping galleries.



These central areas are renowned for their night-time glitz and glamour – especially when it comes to eating out.