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. Comédie Française

    Louvre | Theater

    Founded in 1680, Comédie Française is the most hallowed institution in French theater. It specializes in splendid classical French plays by...Read More

  • 2. Café de la Gare

    Marais Quarter | Theater

    This spot offers a fun opportunity to experience a particularly Parisian form of entertainment, the café-théâtre —part satire, part variety...Read More

  • 3. Casino de Paris

    Grands Boulevards | Theater

    Once a favorite of the immortal Serge Gainsbourg, Casino de Paris has a horseshoe balcony, a cramped but cozy music-hall feel, and performances...Read More

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  • 4. Comédie des Champs-Élysées

    Champs-Élysées | Theater

    Next door to the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Comédie des Champs-Élysées offers intriguing productions in its small theater. ...Read More

  • 5. La Cartoucherie

    Eastern Paris | Theater

    This multitheater complex in a former munitions factory lures cast and spectators into an intimate theatrical world. Go early for a simple meal...Read More

  • 6. Le Manoir de Paris

    Eastern Paris | Theater

    Let yourself be enchanted (and frightened) as 35 talented performers bring Paris legends to life. When you walk through this mansion, the history...Read More

  • 7. Odéon–Théâtre de l'Europe

    St-Germain-des-Prés | Theater

    The former home of the Comédie Française now focuses on pan-European theater, offering a variety of European-language productions for no more...Read More

  • 8. Théâtre Darius Milhaud

    Eastern Paris | Theater

    This theater stages classics by Camus and Baudelaire, as well as occasional shows for children. ...Read More

  • 9. Théâtre de la Huchette

    Latin Quarter | Theater

    This tiny Rive Gauche venue has been staging the titanic Romanian-French writer Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and The Lesson since 1957: it...Read More

  • 10. Théâtre de la Renaissance

    Canal St-Martin | Theater

    Belle Époque superstar Sarah Bernhardt (who was the manager from 1893 to 1899) put Théâtre de la Renaissance on the map. Big French stars often...Read More

  • 11. Théâtre des Abbesses

    Montmartre | Theater

    Part of the Théâtre de la Ville, Théâtre des Abbesses is a 400-seat venue in Montmartre. It features lesser-known theater acts, musicians, and...Read More

  • 12. Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord

    Stalingrad | Theater

    Welcome to the wonderfully atmospheric, slightly decrepit home of Peter Brook. The renowned British director regularly delights with his quirky...Read More

  • 13. Théâtre du Palais-Royal

    Louvre | Theater

    Located in the former residence of Cardinal Richelieu, this plush 716-seat, Italian-style theater is bedecked in gold and purple. It specializes...Read More

  • 14. Théâtre Équestre Zingaro


    Ready for a variation on the circus theme? If you're lucky enough to be visiting during the two months Zingaro performs at home (usually in...Read More

  • 15. Théâtre Mogador

    Grands Boulevards | Theater

    One of Paris's most sumptuous theaters features musicals and other productions with a pronounced popular appeal (think Cats or Holiday on Ice ). ...Read More

  • 16. Théâtre National de Chaillot

    Eiffel Tower | Theater

    Housed in an imposing neoclassic building overlooking the Eiffel Tower, Théâtre National de Chaillot has a trio of theaters and a total of 1...Read More

  • 17. Théâtre Marigny

    Champs-Élysées | Theater

    Since it reopened in early 2015, a newlyrenovated Théâtre Marigny again offers top-flight theater, often with a big-name French star topping...Read More

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