Grand Palais et Petit Palais

Grand Palais et Petit Palais (29)

Exceptional exhibitions in a unique setting. Do not miss it.

The Grand Palais and the Petit Palais form an inseparable whole made up of two buildings dedicated to art. The first universal exhibitions had been dedicated above all to industry and technology. But they gradually opened up towards the fine arts. On these lines, for the universal exhibition of 1900 the Grand Palais and Petit Palais were built. They were built at the same time as the Alexander III bridge.

The building is made up of three sections, and each one was assigned to an architect, Henri Deglane, Albert Louvet and Albert Thomas. The chief architect Charles Girault was entrusted to ensure that everything formed a stylistic uniformity and he was also the architect of the Petit Palais.

More than 40 artists selected by the architects took part in the decoration to produce statues, mosaics, ornaments and monumental groups.

Behind the colonnade of Avenue Winston-Churchill and Avenue Franklin-Roosevelt, are two large friezes, the first in mosaic and the second in ceramics, showing the different stages of the history of art.

While the façades evolve towards classicism, the sculptures are very Baroque. The most notable are the famous cuadrigas by Georges Récipon: The harmony that triumphs over discord of the Seine part and the part on the Champs-Elysées Immortality overtaking time. 

The inscription on the façade, Victorien Sardou, extols the mission and ambition of the Grand Palais; “This monument was consecrated by the Republic to the glory of French Art ".

The spectacular GRAND PALAIS combines a large façade with many art nouveau elements. What stands out most are its great glass ceilings of 15,000 square metres. Its metal structure supports 8,500 tons of glass, 500 tons more than the Eiffel Tower. Its size is enormous: 240 metres long and 45 metres high.

One of its first big exhibitions, in 1906, was the work of Gauguin. A year later the work of Cézanne was consecrated. In 1925 during the Universal Exhibition of Decorative Arts, the Grand Palais witnessed the birth of the art deco movement. Until 1993, the Grand Palais was the home to FIAC the International Fair of Contemporary Art.

Over the years it has housed exhibitions as varied and prestigious as a retrospective of the dresses of Chanel and Yves Laurent, the work of Renoir or Toulouse Lautrec and the Treasures of Egypt or Monumenta.

Monographs of artists, retrospectives, new projects by artists... the leading art exhibitions held here always get long queues at the entrance. 

There is a total space of 5,300 m2 of temporary exhibition galleries which each year attract close to one million visitors. Moreover, they have a very active programme with conferences, lectures, film showings, workshops, etc. It has an auditorium, restaurant-cafeteria and there are normally guided visits and audio guides of the exhibitions in several languages.

In one of the wings of the Grand Palais is the Palace of Discoveries. It was created in 1937 to promote scientific knowledge in the fields of biology, medicine, mathematics, natural sciences, chemistry and physics. It was the first interactive museum in the world. Its explanations and tactile exhibits contribute to explaining the rules of science in an entertaining and accessible way. 

The PETIT PALAIS is another architectural jewel, built in a similar style to the Grand Palais. It is arranged around a pretty, semicircular gardened courtyard. Outside you can see the Ionic columns, a large porch and a vault. Its dome and the decoration give it a singular charm.

It houses an important sample of French art. It currently houses the Museum of Fine Arts of Paris. 

The Cours de la Reine wing has temporary exhibitions while the Champs Elysées wing has the permanent collection. In this area you will be able to see works from Greece and Rome, marbles and sculptures from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It specialises in objects d’art such as porcelain, tapestries, clocks and jewellery from the Renaissance and furniture from the 17th to 19th centuries. You will also come across works by French impressionist painters.

Entry is free for the permanent exhibitions and you have to pay to see the temporary ones. It has a very pleasant Café-restaurant and a bookshop.                

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