The neighbourhood

Théâtre de l'Odéon

Theatre-de-l'Odeon-Paris-Hotel-des-Saints-Pères-Esprit-de-France

The Hôtel des Saints Pères takes you behind the scenes of the Théâtre National de l’Odéon, at the heart of the 6th arrondissement in Paris, just next to the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Built in 1782, the oldest theatre-monument in Paris contains some true marvels of architecture. With a programme that is both classical and contemporary, the theatre has seen plays by some of the greatest authors performed here, including Barrault, Serreau and Lavaudant.

A national theatre

Built on the former site of the Hôtel de Condé by the architects Charles de Wailly and Marie-Joseph Peyre, the Théâtre de l'Odéon is part of the Théâtre de l'Europe, along with the "Ateliers Berthier" theatre in the 17th arrondissement. The Odéon is one of the six national theatres since 1971, along with the Comédie Française, the Colline, Chaillot, Strasbourg and the Opéra-Comique. It is located 15 minutes walk from the Hôtel des Saints Pères.

The exterior of the building, in neoclassical style, is inspired by the monuments of Greek antiquity with its cubic forms, columns and arches. It is an "Italian-style" theatre with a semi-oval auditorium. The Theatre has been listed as a Historic Monument since 1947. The Théâtre de l'Odéon presents plays by classical and contemporary authors such as Serreau, Gémier, Barrault, Giorgio, Strehler and Georges Lavaudan. The institution is known for being a clever mix of classicism and modernity, which is what makes it so successful.


Marvels of architecture

The Theatre houses a vestibule that opens onto two majestic stone staircases. Upstairs, the Grand Foyer, presents sculptures by Racine and Corneille as well as paintings in keeping with the spirit of the place.

The auditorium was the first in Paris to have benches for the audience to sit on. The red armchairs underline the fact that the theatre used to belong to the Comédie Française. The ceiling of the hall is remarkable. It is by André Masson and is based on the theme of Apollo-Sun. The figures of Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Kleist and Claudel, symbolising comedy and tragedy, can also be seen. The three attitudes of life are also present on the set: jubilation, pain and meditation.

Finally, the Roger Blin room, transformed in 1967 by Jean-Louis Barrault into a mini-theatre, is today a space for readings as it houses the Theatre's bookshop and a meeting place. Its name refers to this great director, who worked notably at the Théâtre de l'Europe.

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