Grand Palais

Paris, France

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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Details

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

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Van Thanh Tran (9 months ago)
Currently closed for renovation as of June 2023. It’s beautiful from outside though.
Sotiris Gizas (9 months ago)
It is one of the best sightseeing in Paris. Every time I visit Paris I go to Grand Palais,because I like the enjoyable atmosphere and the place is perfect to relax. So if you visit Paris you should definitely go there. It is suitable for all the ages and you can visit it any month of the year
Reda Haddou (12 months ago)
A Grandiose Setting for Art Lovers but Disorganised Venue The Grand Palais is an impressive exhibition hall in the heart of Paris, with a rich history and grand architecture. While the building itself is a marvel, the exhibitions vary in quality and can be hit or miss. Visitors are likely to experience long lines and crowds, making it difficult to fully appreciate the artwork. However, the venue's central location and stunning surroundings make it worth a visit. What sets the Grand Palais apart is its ability to host large-scale exhibitions, showcasing both classic and contemporary art. The building's glass roof floods the space with natural light, creating a unique atmosphere that enhances the artwork on display. Additionally, the on-site cafe and gift shop provide convenient amenities for visitors. One area for improvement is the organization of the exhibitions. With so many visitors, lines can become chaotic and confusing, leading to frustration and missed opportunities. The ticketing process could also be more efficient to reduce wait times. Overall, I would recommend the Grand Palais to art enthusiasts looking for a grandiose setting. While it may not be the most comfortable or organized exhibition hall, its history and architecture make it a worthwhile destination. I left the Grand Palais with a sense of awe and appreciation for the art and the space, but with room for improvement in the logistics of the experience.
Nuno Castilho (13 months ago)
Incredible building housing an exhibition hall and museum complex.
FulcrumYYC (14 months ago)
Haven't had a chance to go in yet, the building is impressive.
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