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The men who destroyed Paris—and then rebuilt it

City of Light tells the story of the French capital's 19th century reinvention

The Paris Opera House opened in 1875

The Paris Opera House opened in 1875

The foundation stone of the Palais Garnier, Paris’s sparkling new opera house, was laid a mere six months before that of Montmartre’s imposing Sacré-Cœur. The year was 1875, and France was a Republic once more. The Garnier and all its lavish opulence was the culmination of the capital’s metamorphosis. Rupert Christiansen navigates this period of redevelopment via the relationship of its primary architects: Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte III, who had been deposed in 1870, and his fastidious Prefect…

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