The Grand Palais and the Petit Palais

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Le Petit Palais

The palaces were built to replace the Palais de l’Industrie for the 1900 World Fair. Architect Charles Girault successfully designed two very different buildings which complement each other perfectly.

 

The Petit Palais

The Petit Palais’ stonework is more academic and the most distinguishing features are the monumental porche topped with a massive glass dome. Visitors enter through an impressive 32-ft tall gate decorated with plant patterns covered in gold leaf designed by Charles Girault himself. The entrance is overlooked by a tympanum depicting the city of Paris surrounded by muses by Jean-Antoine Injalbert, with the La Seine et ses affluents by Maurice Ferrary to the right and the Four Seasons by Louis Convers to the left. Behind the long façade (492 ft) the building’s semi-ciruclar structure includes a charming cloister garden. The museum café is an ideal break from the busy streets outside and serves simple food for snacks or lunch. The palace became the Paris museum of Fine Arts just two years after it was opened for the World Fair to exhibit works from ancient civilisations through to the end of the 19th century. The museum regularly hosts collections on tour to complete the permanent collections on show.


The Grand Palais

le_grand_palais

The Grand Palais is on the other side of Avenue Winston-Churchill and stands out due to its incredible 147-ft high glass barrel-vault. The building is the combined work of 4 architects who entered the competition held by the city who could not be divided. The giantic building (17 sq acres) was originally intended to host major artistic events in Paris. The building consists of three distinct sections: the nave located under the magnificent glass vault which hosts various events and shows such as the Paris Motor Show, agricultural events and show jumping (Saut Hermès), the FIAC (international modern Art fair), fashion shows and even an ice-rink, the National Galleries created by André Malraux host Art exhibitions for a wide public and lastly, the west wing, which was rearranged in 1937 to accommodate the Palais de la Découverte, is devoted to Science. After 6 years of work of titanic proportions to strengthen the foundations (2001 to 2007), more major work is scheduled to start in 2020 to restore the building to its legendary splendor and be ready to welcome the 2024 Olympic Games.