We love Paris. We love classical concerts and operas. And we love saving money. Thus, we combined our loves and put together a list of five ways to do culture in Paris a la cheapo.
Free classical music
Pick up a Pariscope, the weekly listings guide (in French), at any magazine kiosk and flip to the classical concert listings. You’ll see many freebie concerts, often by young musicians and local ensembles, held on Sundays in churches around town.
We’re especially fond of concerts in the 16th Century Eglise St-Merri, in the 4th arrondissement, which presents free concerts on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year. (Incidentally, the bell tower contains the oldest bell in Paris, cast in 1331!)
Cheap seats for concerts in major venues
Paris boasts world-class performances in state-of-the-art musical halls. Best of all, many of these venues receive government support to help keep ticket prices affordable — or at least some ticket prices affordable. (Don’t be thrown by expensive seats. Hunt around a bit on the websites and you’ll find the cheap seats!)
The Salle Pleyel is a brand new performance hall, offering performances by classical stars and touring orchestras. Tickets can be found for major concerts from €10. (Check out our earlier post on the Salle Pleyel.)
Theatre du Chatelet located at Place du Chatelet in the 1st arrondissement, offers modern and classical concerts, from recitals to full orchestras. Again, ticket rates are surprising reasonable, starting at €20 for most concerts. The theater has a Sunday morning concert series with all seats going for €23 (€12 under 26 years old, children free) and no tickets are sold in advance. The ticket office opens at 10 AM and seating is open.
Cheap seats for Dance
Theatre de la Ville, located across from Theater du Chatelet, provides modern dance performances. Tickets are quite reasonable, many priced at €10-15.
The celebrated 19th Century Opera Garnier presents mostly ballet and modern dance pieces. Even if you’re not a dance enthusiast, you can’t help but be impressed by the building’s neo-Baroque architecture, sweeping staircase, 2,200 seat grand salle, and ceiling by Marc Chagall.
Cheap seats for Opera
The Opera National de Paris operates both the Opera Bastille and the Opera Garnier. The Opera Bastille, a controversial building when it opened in 1989, presents operas throughout the year, and boasts that each of its seats provides an unobstructed view of the stage. Although ticket prices go as high as €150, seats for the same performance go as low as €5. If you show up an hour early, you can possibly get some cheap, last minute tickets.
We’ll see you at the show… in the cheap seats!