Why is it so hard to find decent chamber music concerts in Paris? Well, it isn’t – on the proviso that you first dissect all printed catalogs and that you do not snub the lesser venues. It is often far more enjoyable to listen to chamber music in small concert halls rather than in a 2,000 seat arena, unless you are really close to the stage. You should always take a hard look at what they offer before you shell out 80 € for a premium seat. And that’s why it’s worth our taking a look at some key venues.

Philharmonie de Paris : Amphithéâtre © William Beaucardet
Philharmonie de Paris : Amphithéâtre
© William Beaucardet

Cellist Jérôme Pernoo is behind numerous innovative chamber music projects and festivals. His latest achievement is the “Paris Chamber Music Center” at Salle Cortot: a set of monthly performances featuring a range of young ensembles performing (though not exclusively) chamber music favorites. What’s more, there's the possibility of purchasing a two-person pass for a mere 160 €, which grants free access to each and every concert in the season.

Salle Gaveau: this venue appeals through its ideal proportions and lavish acoustics. Yet, it has been running out of steam for the past few years, outcompeted by giants such as the Philharmonie/Cité de la Musique complex. In spite of its sometimes ragtag cast, it still attracts some excellent pianist and chamber ensembles. First category seats can be pretty expensive (35-55 €). However, you may want to purchase some low-priced tickets (12-22€) and move to first row during the intermission.

Should you pass near the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on a rainy Sunday morning, don’t forget to try Jeanine Roze’s weekly 11AM concerts. A flat tariff of 30 € (15 € for students and free for age 9 and below) and no reserved seats: that’s why you need to get there pretty early (around 11:20 AM) in order to secure the best seats.

Radio France's Studio 104 and 105 are a must for both music fanatics and bargain hunters who wish to hear some gorgeous playing gratis. Provided that you register online in advance, it is fairly simple to attend to live-broadcasted concerts. Here is a non-exhaustive list of radio programmes with frequent live broadcasts: Génération Jeune interprète, Plaisirs du Quatuor, Portrait de Famille.

A new addition to the Parisian classical music scene: the Fondation Louis Vuitton, inaugurated in 2014, puts a dozen concerts throughout the year with a strong focus on young performers. Set in a breathtaking building designed by Frank Gehry, the 350-seat auditorium is an intimate venue blessed with first class acoustics. Once there, don't miss out on the exhibitions and other events organised there. 

Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord © Patrick Tourneboeuf
Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
© Patrick Tourneboeuf
Perhaps the most intriguing venue is Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord. A magnificent setting, with big bare walls, warm hue and period style seats, is the background for France’s finest String Quartets, including Quatuor Ébène and Quatuor Diotima.

Don’t miss Cité de la Musique’s biennial cycle of String Quartets! A glittering array of the world’s most famous quartets (Borodine, Hagen, Artemis, Arditti) and, above all, a venue renowned for the remarkable quality of the repertoire on offer (don’t be surprised to come across the complete quartet works of Shostakovich). Plus, there is no better place for period instrument and avant-garde performance than the lesser-known Amphitheatre, a 250-seat V-shaped hall with amazing acoustics.