Nov 11, 2007

Travel Guide: Salle Pleyel, Paris

I always find it interesting, when bloggers give some tips about the Opera Houses or Concert Halls they know, regarding seatings, acoustics, or small but useful details.

So I attend to do the same for the places I know.
First up: La Salle Pleyel, the recently renovated Paris version of Carnegie Hall or The Royal Albert Hall.

The history of the Concert Hall and of the Pleyel's family can be found here (in French), the long and expensive renovation of the hall can be found here (also in French) and you can take a virtual tour of the place there (in English).

Online booking is of course available, it's easy enough but you cannot choose the seat you want. You can only choose the price category and the orchestra or balcony level; then, a seat is assigned to you by the system. If you don't like the choice made for you and start the process of booking again, the exact same seat will be reassigned to you - so there's no way you can fool the system.

Tickets are then available at the venue one hour before the concert or sent to you (if you live in France) for free. I've only tried the second solution, because I hate to have to pick a ticket on the evening of a concert, and it works just fine.

Let's now focus on the things to bare in mind when thinking of buying a ticket.
First of all, the seating: nothing to worry there, the new seats are comfortable but the space between two rows is rather small, meaning tall men should look for the seats at the ends of the rows if they don't want to leave with cramps.

The real problem of this renovated Concert Hall is the acoutics.
See the seating chart below (stage in white)?

Well, let's put it that way; if you are seated anywhere but in the orchestra, you will have a hard time hearing the music (and I do mean a hard time). If your seats are in the orchestra, you won't be safe for sure; anything after the 15th row is heresy. You see, here lies the ugly truth about the new-renovated-expensive Salle Pleyel: the acoustics is just not working at all. Consider yourselves warned.

Salle Pleyel
252, rue du faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris
Access via métro :
- line 2: station Ternes
- lines 1, 6, RER A: station Charles de Gaulle-Etoile
Map here.


Niwashikun said...

You mention "there is no way to fool the system" when purchasing online seats. Au contraire!

My wife and I discovered that if you start to book seats the computer will hold them for 20 minutes. During this time you simply open another window and reorder. You will recieve different seats since the first ones are being held. It took us three windows till we got the seats we were looking for. After booking those seats you simply close the other windows and those seats are released.

This does not work as well for Opera de Paris because you have to sign in to your account first and when you try for a second or third pair of seats it will move the first pair to keep all the seats together.

However you can try different numbers of seats (ie. 6 seats in stead of two) and that will often get you into a different location. Once you have what your looking for then you can individually delete the seats you don't want from that group of six.

I haven't tried it but I imagine you could also create several accounts and use them simultaneously to find different seating locations.

Extatic said...

Thanks for sharing!

Mary McGagh said...

For the Palais Garnier and Opéra Bastille it would be much easier to create several accounts. I couldn't locate my spectator number so I inadvertently created more than one account.

Mary McGagh said...

I have also had success in selecting preferable seating by trying at a different time of day or on a different day!