The performing arts scene in Paris runs the gamut from highbrow to lowbrow, cheap (or even free) to break-the-bank expensive. Venues are indoors and outdoors, opulent or spartan, and dress codes vary accordingly. Regardless of the performance you choose, it's probably unlike anything you've seen before. Parisians have an audacious sense of artistic adventure and a stunning eye for scene and staging. An added bonus in this city of classic beauty is that many of the venues themselves—from the opulent interiors of the Opéra Garnier and the Opéra Royal de Versailles to the Art Deco splendor of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées—are a feast for the eyes.

One thing that sets Paris apart in the arts world is the active participation of the Ministry of Culture, which sponsors numerous concert halls and theaters, like the Comédie Française, that tend to present less commercial, though artistically captivating, productions. Other venues with broader appeal are known for sold-out shows and decade-long runs.

Most performances are in French, although you can find English theater productions. English-language movies are often presented undubbed, with subtitles. Of course, you don't need to speak the language to enjoy opera, classical music, dance, or the circus.

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  • 1. Ateliers Berthier


    The outlying atelier for the more illustrious Théâtre de l'Odéon is in the 17e, a bit off the beaten path; the upside is that on...Read More

  • 2. Grand Palais Ephemère

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    French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte's soaring 100,000-square-feet temporary structure at the foot of the Champs de Mars, facing the École Militaire, will house the Grand Palais's...Read More

  • 3. La Seine Musicale

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    Rising up from the Seine like a futuristic ocean liner, Le Seine Musicale answers Paris's desire to compete as one of the world's prime music...Read More

  • 4. Le Lucernaire


    Occupying an abandoned factory, Le Lucernaire wins a standing ovation as far as cultural centers are concerned. With three theaters staging a total of six...Read More

  • 5. Philharmonie de Paris

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    Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, this is one of the world's finest and most expensive auditoriums. It can accommodate 2,400 music lovers, and the...Read More

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  • 6. Théâtre de la Cité Internationale


    In the heart of the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, this complex includes three theaters, an international student residence community, a casual daytime restaurant, and...Read More

  • 7. Théâtre des Champs-Élysées


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