The Top Secret Theatres You Must See in Paris

  • 23, Aug 2017
  • Parisian theatre
  • Theatre in Paris contributor

One of Paris’ best kept secrets is its historical playhouses, originating from the time of kings or established in the roaring 20’s. Explore some of Paris’ best secret theatres.

Most travelers just barely scratch the surface when looking for things to see in Paris, France. So we're here to tell you: don't be the average tourist! It's back-to-school season, and we are hurriedly preparing our new shows and (shhh!) expanding our offer! In September, travelers from all over the world flock to the city of lights ready to discover the famous sights in Paris like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Opera, the Arc of Triumph... But what travelers often fail to discover is the true Parisian night life, and the locals' absolute love for theatre! With Theatre in Paris, you'll discover that the true core of the city's local, vibrant culture lies in its theatres and their mesmerizing productions, made accessible to travelers with our state-of-the-art English subtitles.

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1.​Théâtre Edouard VII

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Fancy frequenting the same places as a King? Or meeting the ghost of Orson Welles? Look no further than Théâtre Edouard VII, where Theatre in Paris is running The Prize, and will soon be running a brand new show, Real Life!
Known as the most French of all British Kings, English King Edouard VII was a great supporter of the arts. In the early 1900s, this theatre was built in his honor as a centre for Anglo-Saxon culture in Paris, a city the King deeply loved. Run by legendary director Sacha Guitry, Théâtre Edouard VII has seen numerous well known figures such as Orson Welles (rumored among Parisians to be haunting the halls of the venue) and Jean Cocteau, famous director and friend of Picasso!

A venue meant to celebrate the Anglo-French relationship, the theatre continues to have a lively stage with the best "Boulevard Comedies" in the city, oozing with risqué French humour!

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2. Théâtre de la Gaïté Montparnasse

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In a vibrant area flocked by artists, theatre-buffs and hipsters, famous for its nightlife and art, is a theatre that has seen the famous celebrities of the past, and is known today for its sensational productions. In this venue, Theatre in Paris is now playing famed comédie française actor's wildly successful show, back for the 3rd year in a row, Molière in Spite of Myself!

Salvaging materials from the demolition of Théâtre de l’Exposition in 1867, Francois Jamin constructed a “cafe-concert” in the very popular and vibrant Montparnasse area. As a popular place to drink, dance, attend a Parisian cabaret or a show, these evenings were known to be loud and rowdy, unlike the typical theatre experience today. A few years passed and a more authentic and modern theatre was installed to host sketches, singing acts, parodies and poem recitals of texts. After being a place for troupes and singers to take the stage to entertain soldiers and citizens alike during World War II, the theatre was threatened with demolition. Being saved by a few people in the industry who saw it as a valuable piece of history and art it remains lively in the prominent Montparnasse neighborhood.

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3. Théâtre Ranelagh

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Time machine or theatre? How about both?! Showcasing France’s most famous shows, this theatre will soon be playing renowned French classic, The Cid!
Located outside the city limits at the time, a theatre was built in Château de Boulainvilliers belonging to Alexandre Le Riche de La Pouplinière, a great French patron of the arts. Intellectuals and artists such as Voltaire and Rameau visited the theatre After the Revolution left the property partially devastated, a famous automobile manufacturer and music enthusiast, Louis Mors, acquired the land and had the original theatre reconstructed on the site of the original La Poupliniere Music Hall in 1894. The rich and warm carved oak panels that adorn the venue in a Neo-Renaissance style gave the room exceptional acoustics. It's a veritable window to the past, and today runs the most famous classics, in a fun, dynamic way that will make you want to sing and dance, well after the show has ended!

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4. La Comédie Française - Salle Richelieu

One of the oldest, still-active theatres in the world, Comédie Française was founded in 1680. Complete with crimson velvet, gold fringe and tassels, cast iron and Doric Columns, the oval-shaped auditorium was often overflowing with French nobility during its glory days. After a violent political discussion broke out between the performers during the French Revolution, Salle Richelieu was opened in 1799 and became the primary venue of Comédie Française. The works of Molière and Jean Racine filled the repertoire of the theatre during its first years; today, it consists of over 3,000 works.

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5. Palais Garnier

You can admire this historic gem on your way to Théâtre Edouard VII! Step into one of the most famous opera houses in the world and you're stepping into the setting of the novel The Phantom of the Paris Opera. Rich with gold and velvet, mirrors, lavish statuary, chandeliers, and white marble with hints of red and green; there’s no denying the elegance of Palais Garnier. After a design competition held in 1860, this was one of the most expensive buildings of its time and it quickly became a symbol of the city like Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre. The traditional Italian horseshoe shape of the auditorium is donned with the largest stage in all of Europe, a removable ceiling painting done by Marc Chagall in 1964 and completed with a 7-tonne brass and crystal chandelier that lights the massive room. The entire opera house is undoubtedly elaborate and breathtaking, from the Grand Staircase to the Grand Foyer and to the tiniest details of the decor.

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6. Théâtre du Chatelet

Built on the site that once was the location of a châtelet, a small castle or fortress, Parisian architect Baron Haussmann requested the construction of the magnificent Théâtre du Châtelet in 1860. It was here that Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days was adapted for the stage and ran for 64 years, exactly 2,195 performances, until the Nazi occupation of Paris in May 1940 closed the production permanently. Since opening, it has been used for just about every form of entertainment, from operettas, variety and ballet performances, to classical and popular music concerts and cinema, but is currently home to the Orchestre de Paris and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.