Abbé Perrin (Director of...
The Boite à sel is the counter situated in the foyer of theatres and operas where spectators go to pick up their tickets. This counter, often raised up to make it easy to spot, gets its name from the smelling salts placed there by the doctor on duty to revive ailing spectators when required. Its origin goes back to 1852 when the prefet, or Commissioner of Police, decreed the presence of a doctor obligatory at every theatrical performance. Indeed, many over-sensitive ladies fainted during melodramatic performances of sensational Gothic-style theatre productions, and even puppet shows merely from the effects of a corset too tightly laced... In 1927, the presence of a doctor was limited to theatres of more than 800 spectators. Opera Bastille, inaugurated in 1989, also has its boite à sel, situated to the left of the main entrance, even if today, the use of smelling salts has disappeared. Although at the Palais Garnier, the doctor on duty, in case of need, collects his first aid kit directly from the firemen at the safety point, at the Opéra Bastille, it is kept at the Boite à sel. The staff give it to the doctor at the same time as his/her complimentary ticket.
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