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


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

  • 2. La Comédie Italienne


    The Rue de la Gaîté has been a Left Bank entertainment hub since the late 18th century. Once dotted with dance halls and cabarets, this...Read More

  • 3. Théâtre Mogador

    Grands Boulevards

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

  • 4. Café de la Gare

    Marais Quarter

    This spot offers an opportunity to experience a particularly Parisian form of entertainment, the café-théâtre—part satire, part variety revue—jazzed up with slapstick humor and performed...Read More

  • 5. Casino de Paris

    Grands Boulevards

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

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  • 6. Comédie des Champs-Élysées


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

  • 7. Théâtre Darius Milhaud


    This theater stages classics by Camus and Baudelaire, as well as occasional shows for children. Performances are in French, but if your language skills are...Read More

  • 8. Théâtre de la Huchette

    Latin Quarter

    This tiny Rive Gauche venue has been staging the titanic Romanian-French writer Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and The Lesson since 1957: before the COVID-19 pandemic,...Read More

  • 9. Théâtre de la Renaissance

    Canal St-Martin

    Belle Époque superstar Sarah Bernhardt, who directed and performed at this beautiful theater from 1893 to 1899, put the Théâtre de la Renaissance on the...Read More

  • 10. Théâtre des Abbesses


    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 up-and-coming choreographers,...Read More

  • 11. Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord


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

  • 12. Théâtre du Palais-Royal


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

  • 13. Théâtre National de Chaillot

    Eiffel Tower

    Housed in an imposing neoclassical building overlooking the Eiffel Tower, Théâtre National de Chaillot has a trio of venues and a total of 1,600 seats....Read More

  • 14. 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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