A must when in paris : the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais

Outings | Exhibitions | Museums
Grand Palais par Esprit de France
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A different vocation

The Grand and the Petit Palais are often considered to present the Paris major exhibitions. Though both were built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, these two buildings facing each other, along the Seine, in the axis of Pont Alexandre III, nevertheless have a different vocation.

The Grand Palais is one of the largest and most emblematic Parisian monuments. Combining stone, steel and glass, this architectural masterpiece can easily be recognized by its large metal-ribbed glass dome. It is home to three major sites. The first one, the 240-meter long Nave surmounted by a glass roof with a cupola culminating at an altitude of 45 meters, hosts major events in very different fields (jumping -The Saut Hermès-, contemporary art such as the FIAC or Paris Photo, or funfairs and even ice-skating ...). The second one, the Palais de la Découverte, is a science museum with a planetarium. The third one, finally, is the National Galleries which organize large-scale temporary exhibitions and aim at a wide audience. Currently, they offer Gauguin the alchemist on one side and on the other, the photographer Irving Penn. The exterior of the building is adorned with beautiful mosaics beneath the colonnade of Winston Churchill Avenue and two beautiful oxidized copper quadrigas that crown the entrances at both ends of this imposing façade.

The Petit Palais is, for its part, a more classical architectural jewel, although the architect who designed it, Charles Girault, is also the one who supervised the works of the Grand Palais. The center of the long facade is featured by a monumental entrance surmounted by a cupola without a glass roof: a high staircase leads to a richly worked gilded gate and the archivolt of the porch is adorned with lofty sculptures. The interior is structured around a semi-circular garden bordered by a charming peristyle. During your visit, allow time for a cup of tea or coffee in this privileged setting protected from the boisterous city. After its inauguration this building quickly became the Museum of Fine Arts of the city with 1300 pieces that showcase mostly the nineteenth century and also with temporary exhibitions often related to its collections. Currently, you can enjoy the work of the Swedish painter Anders Zorn, and The Art of Pastel from Degas to Redon which displays an exceptional set of 130 pastels belonging to the museum and rarely shown.

Though different, the two buildings together create a unique ensemble by their proportions and their characteristically Belle Epoque elegance. They contribute to the magic of the Parisian panorama which unfolds with majesty on the banks of the Seine.