The Grand Palais is an exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées. Construction of the Grand Palais began in 1897 following the demolition of the Palais de l'Industrie (Palace of Industry) as part of the preparation works for the Universal Exposition of 1900, which also included the creation of the adjacent Petit Palais and Pont Alexandre III.

The structure was built in the style of Beaux-Arts architecture as taught by the École des Beaux-Arts of Paris. The building reflects the movement's taste for ornate decoration through its stone facades, the formality of its floor planning and the use of techniques that were innovative at the time, such as its glass vault, its structure made of iron and light steel framing, and its use of reinforced concrete.

The main space, almost 240 metres long, was constructed with an iron, steel and glass barrel-vaulted roof, making it the last of the large transparent structures inspired by London’s Crystal Palace that were necessary for large gatherings of people before the age of electricity. The main space was originally connected to the other parts of the palace along an east-west axis by a grand staircase in a style combining Classical and Art Nouveau, but the interior layout has since been somewhat modified.

The exterior of this massive palace combines an imposing Classical stone façade with a riot of Art Nouveau ironwork, and a number of allegorical statue groups including work by sculptors Paul Gasq, Camille Lefèvre, Alfred Boucher, Alphonse-Amédée Cordonnier and Raoul Verlet.

The grand inauguration took place 1 May 1900, and from the very beginning the palace was the site of different kinds of shows in addition to the intended art exhibitions. The Palais served also as a military hospital during World War I, employing local artists that had not deployed to the front to decorate hospital rooms or to make moulds for prosthetic limbs.

The Nazis put the Palais to use during the Occupation of France in World War II. First used as a truck depot, the Palais then housed two Nazi propaganda exhibitions. The Parisian resistance used the Grand Palais as a headquarters during the Liberation of Paris. On 23 August 1944 an advancing German column was fired upon from a window on the Avenue de Sèlves, and the Germans responded with a tank attack upon the Palais. The attack ignited hay that was set up for a circus show, and over the next 48 hours, thick black smoke from the fire caused serious damage to the building.

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Founded: 1897
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in France

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User Reviews

Lena Zwarg (5 months ago)
Went to the Michael Jackson exhibit and really enjoyed it. The part of the building I as in was a bit chilly, but I also have a cold. Anyway, I'd definitely go back.
Thomas Kieninger (6 months ago)
When we came by the first time, it was night and glass roof was illuminated with blue light. That looked really good. We have not been inside, as there was a costly exhibition which we weren't interested in - plus long waiting time in the lane. The was no possibility to just peek inside for a short moment.
Tsendsuren Boldbaatar (6 months ago)
When I visited the website, it said 'World's largest ice rink', but it wasn't as big as I expected. But the building is massive and absolutely beautiful. Its architecture is just so mesmerizing. The staff was really friendly and helpful. And you give your shoes to rent skates, which is free of charge. Didn't know that before. Plus, it had cloak room. If you order ticket online, it's really convenient and easy to enter. But the entrance fee is pretty expensive, but worth visiting.
Ian Jindal (6 months ago)
Impressive shed with glass roof! Came here for the winter skating when it had been transformed with an indoor skating rink. The building itself is impressive but the visit experience is going to depend entirely upon what’s actually going on inside at the time...
Alexandre Werkoff (7 months ago)
Beautiful and enchanting! What a great idea to turn this great site into an ice rink! The light show makes it even more magical. Don’t miss it while in Paris.
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