Designing a new interior for a building as prominent as Charles Garnier's historic opera house isn't for the faint-hearted. Erected in 1875 under the auspices of Baron Haussmann's massive overhaul of Paris, the 121,000-square-foot Neo-Baroque edifice stands proudly at the intersection of Rue Scribe and Rue Auber in the middle of the city's ninth arrondissement. But these intimidating conditions did not spook architect Odile Decq. When invited to convert a cupola-covered porch into the building's first restaurant, the raven-haired designer deftly wrapped the space with a wavy curtain of glass and inserted a white mezzanine, whose sinuous form evokes the Paris Opera's infamous phantom.
Facing Place Jacques Rouche, Decq's L'Opera Restaurant is located at street level, where horse-drawn carriages once delivered their ticket-holding patrons. Today, diners approach L'Opera either from within the building or through the 170-seat restaurant's main entrance, on the building's east side. Inside, the bar and lounge area lie to the left and the main dining room is straight ahead, followed by the kitchen at the rear. Steps both in the center and at the side of the room (plus a ramp and an elevator) lead up to the mezzanine seating'mostly banquettes and semi-private dining areas sequestered by a low-lying wall.