From the Vendôme square, the Rue de la Paix brings us to the Opéra Garnier. Its unique appearence is due to a mixture of materials and styles ranging from classical to baroque , with a multitude of columns, friezes and scluptures on the exterior, the typical exemple of Napoleon III’s style. Construction started in 1861 and lasted for more than 14 years. The massive works were slowed down by the discovery of a water table that had to be drained before building an enormous concrete well designed to carry the gigantic stage and fly tower. The well was filled with water in order to counter the water pressure (hence the legend of the underground lake popularized by Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera). The 1870 Franco-Prussian war and the Commune interrupted the construction works, but the fire at the old opera in Rue Le Peletier in 1873 hastened the completion of the monument. It was officially inaugurated during the Third Republic by Field Marshall de Mac-Mahon on 5 January 1875.
Since the opening of the Opéra Bastille in 1989, the Opéra Garnier is devoted to ballets. Most operas are now performed in the new Opera Bastille, but the ballet remains here.