I have mixed feelings about my experience here.
After Hours Tour:
I had a pre-purchased ticket to their after-hours tour, but unfortunately arrived 45mins late. There was a security risk on the Metro so our train bypassed the station, and then I tried to backtrack to get to the Palais Garnier by taking an Uber, which got stuck in insane traffic that was near the Palais Garnier. (Whether this was related to the Metro security issue or something else, I'm not sure.) The Uber driver asked me to cancel the ride so we only made it like 2-thirds there and then I had to walk the rest of the way. Now none of this is the Palais Garnier's problem and I usually try to leave with contingency time for emergencies anyway, but what went from an original 25-minute Metro/walk turned into an hour and 15 minutes of travel, so I know the Palais Garnier doesn't owe me anything, but talking to them about the whole thing was incredibly challenging. The two guards at the door didn't speak English except for a few words and my French is broken, so we were already at a disadvantage to communicate. It was also more confusing when they couldn't explain to me that the box office for tours was closed (their website was showing their box office was open- it turns out they have 2 box offices, one for shows and one for tours, but the guards weren't able to explain that to me). I went outside after they told me to come back to the box office tomorrow. Confused as to why their box office appeared open both in person (I could see it behind the guards) and why their website said it was open, I went outside to read through my phone and type up a message on Google Translate to try again with the guards, specifically questioning about why the box office is still open. While I did that, one of the other guards came out to speak to tourists who had come over (they also didn't speak French and who got turned away). This guard saw me still there and got a Palais Garnier worker who spoke English, who happened to be walking into the building, to come speak to me. Many thanks to him for doing this. She explained to me about the two different box offices and that I could come in and buy a ticket to tonight's show, but tours would have to be the next day. I thanked both her and the outside guard and went in because I had also wanted to see the show for that night (figured I'd buy a ticket after the tour). When I went in, the outside guard and the woman who spoke English ended up staying outside and the guard that had stayed inside thought I was just coming in to try again to get in for the tour. I was flustered and tried explaining I wanted the show box office but wasn't getting anywhere with my broken French. Luckily a student from the US who spoke fluent French (he was studying in France at the time of this story) came over and translated, finally allowing me in. I appreciate that the guards were trying to do their jobs, but I'd love to see a little more patience and care from workers at a tourist attraction (at least enough patience for me to get my phone and take out Google Translate so we can communicate better) and maybe a pre-made bilingual sign explaining the difference in box offices? I do appreciate the outside guard finding someone else to help me. Overall, it was a massive headache to get in, but once I was, it was smooth sailing.
Rush Line for Evening Ballet/Opera Show:
The rush line was easy to navigate thanks to the bilingual student and the box office staff were pretty friendly, easily getting us tickets once we could purchase from the rush line. The tickets were 10Euros and the seats were terrible (myself and another girl stood the whole time from the back of the box) but the show was extremely well done and for 10euros, I didn't mind standing. The girl who I bought a programme from was very sweet and between her broken English and my broken French, we were able to complete the purchase with no problem. She also understood I was trying to tell her I liked her nails and got really happy which was just a nice, positive interaction with staff after the stress of the night. The building itself was beautiful and worth the visit, I'm so glad I got to get in and see a show.
Next Day Self Guided Tour:
Upon arriving the next day, I got inside easily, but was directed wrongly to 2 different box office windows before arriving at the third, correct one (this was partially due to the broken French/English but also partially due to the overall explanation) it turns out there's 3 box offices- 1 for shows, 1 for guided tours, and 1 for self-guided tours. Once I finally got to the right line/window, the lady there was nice but curt (no communication issues this time because she spoke fluent English), saying she couldn't rebook me on another guided tour, but could give me a ticket to a self-guided tour. Not amazing, but also better than nothing when the answer could have been "you missed the tour, not our fault". She was kind of dismissive once she gave me the ticket, kinda "ok get outta here now vibes", rather than a "do you need anything else, customer service vibe", but at least the transaction went smoothly. The staff at the self-guided booth were friendlier and I had no issue getting through there and buying an audioguide, many thanks to them. It was kinda pricey for an audioguide, but came with headphones and was extremely well made, so would definitely get one if you ever do a self-guided tour. The tour was well done and I enjoyed seeing the Phantom of the Opera Box 5 the most, along with learning the history of the building. The guard and the staff member at the end of the tour, where you drop the audioguides off were both very nice, explaining where the bathrooms and restaurant were. The girl working cash in the gift shop was very sweet, answering a couple of questions I had in broken English/me in broken French. Many thanks to her for her kindness and patience.
Overall thoughts/ TLDR:
It's definitely worth a visit as it's iconic, historical, and a cultural hub. A must for Phantom of the Opera fans. What I'd love to see from the Palais Garnier is a more detailed website explaining the 3 different box offices (which would have solved my confusion upon arrival) and more patience from staff when dealing with the language barrier. I always try to come prepared (looking online ahead of time) so my lack of French hopefully isn't a huge hindrance, but I feel like anyone who is working at a tourist location could be more patient if there's a language barrier (we could have solved most of this if I had a chance to pull out my phone and use Google Translate, rather than feeling unwelcome/told to just come back tomorrow) and just clearer info overall- a multi-lingual sign with explaining the box offices and their opening hours would be great. Overall, glad I went, just wish it was less stressful. Thank you again to the nice staff, especially the girl who sold me a programme and the girl from the gift shop.