Petit Palais Paris
The afternoon sun bounces off the façade emanating a warm golden glow.
Climbing the grand staircase passing the golden metal gates and slipping into the tremendously elegant foyer with magnificent and intricate mosaic floor tiles, the Petit Palais oozes elegance and opulence.
And the best part is, entrance is free.
But I am getting ahead of myself, let’s start again.
Instead of racing in to see what is inside like so many do, take a moment to admire the enormous ‘small palace’ as it is known which takes up an entire block.
When you reach the top of the staircase, pause to take in the detail of the golden gates without forgetting to look up and you will discover the Parisian Coat of Arms which dates back to 1358.
The coat of arms which is represented by a boat and above that the city’s motto; “Fluctuat nec mergitur” (“She is tossed by the waves, but does not sink”).
Now we are ready for the grand entrance of the Petit Palais.
And grand it is. The vast foyer is sparsely decorated and yet, there is so much to take in.
Nothing short of spectacular.
Detailed plaster work frames the sumptuous ceiling murals. Pink marble adorns the walls and underfoot is an intricate maze of scrolls, colour and floral designs of the mosaic flooring.
Today the building is home to the Museum of Fine Arts; Musée des beaux-arts de la ville de Paris but originally built in time for the 1900 Universal Exhibition.
The City of Paris organised an architectural competition to either renovate the already standing Palais de l’Industrie from the 1855 World’s Fair or demolish and start a fresh.
Charles Girault won the design competition and a mere 2½ years later the newly built Petit Palais was ready for the Universal Exhibition of 1900.
As you work your way through the museum, admiring not only the paintings, sculpture, ceramics, photographs and furniture be sure to also admire the building itself.
Towards the back of the museum you will find not one but two stunning identical staircases.
Elegantly, detailed ironwork twists and sweeps down along the grand marble staircases perhaps having you imaging yourself wearing your best tuxedo or sumptuous satin ball gown, trailing behind you as you descend to the lower level of the museum.
You will find works of art by and not limited to the likes of Cézanne, Monet, Manet, Delacroix, Fragonard and Boucher, the list is long.
And in the first hall you won’t miss Woman with Monkey by Camille Alaphilippe.
This marvellous 1840mm high sculpture is crafted from gilt bronze and shimmering enamelled stoneware.
If weather permits, a short break can be had in the café’s delightful semi circular garden amongst exotic palms and pampas grass or snuggle up on a sofa in the two storey café interior.
Located opposite the Grand Palais with its majestic glass ceiling, a stone’s throw from both the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and the magnificent Pont Alexandre III Bridge offering views of the Eiffel Tower, you could easily spend a few hours after exploring Petit Palais, which isn’t as small as its name suggests.
If you have found this information interesting or useful, please thank me by leaving a comment or following me here on facebook for daily tips, photos and anecdotes. Your feedback encourages me to keep this site up to date. Merci!
You might also like:
- Musée BourdelleFormer home and studio of the artist; Antoine Bourdelle, who was famous for his monumental public statues and friezes, is an exceptional free museum.
- Musée RodinThe newly renovated mansion and former home of the artist, has an equally rich and inspiring history as Monsieur Auguste Rodin himself and then there are the gardens.
- Maison La Roche – Foundation Le CorbusierAt the end of a leafy private lane is an iconic tribute to the architect of modern architecture.
- Musée CarnavaletLocated in the heart of the Marais, this museum is dedicated to the history of Paris. Boasting 600,000 pieces, ranging from the 17th to 20th centuries.
- Musée des Arts ForainsTransport yourself back in time. Ride spectacular antique carousels, play ancient fair-ground games and admire colourful memorabilia.
- Musée Cognacq-JayThis stunning home of Samaritaine Department store founder, Ernest Cognacq-Jay and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, includes Fragonard, Rembrandt, Cézanne ...
- Musée de la Chasse et de la NatureThis wonderfully, quirky, informative, interactive museum, doesn't take itself too seriously. Exploring the history of hunting.
- Muséum national d’histoire naturelleThis museum would have to be the most dramatic and stylishly arranged natural history museum in the world. Be dazzled in awe ....
- Maison de Victor HugoNestled in a corner of Place des Vosges, is the former home of famous author of the Hunchback of Notre Dame; Victor Hugo.
- Musée ZadkineThe small sun drenched former home of Ossip Zadkine allow light to bounce off African influenced work, giving the museum a quiet sense of calm and elegance.
- Musée de la Vie RomantiqueTucked away behind an unassuming green gate, you will discover this enchanting hôtel particulier. An absolute delight.
- Musée Jacquemart-AndréI love poking around former residences of the bourgeois and Musée Jacquemart-Andre is one of the finest you will see in Paris.
- Fondation Louis VuittonNothing short of spectacular, offering panoramic views and modern art, this new museum is sure to become another Paris icon.
- Palais de TokyoContemporary and cutting edge exhibitions of modern art, a very chic restaurant, late night openings until 12am and a great view of the Eiffel Tower.
- Petit PalaisNot as small as its name suggests. Elaborate ceiling murals, magnificent mosaics, grand staircases a pretty garden café and it is free.
- Musée d’OrsayThe former railway station, sitting on the left bank of the Seine, has the largest collection of impressionist and post impressionist art in the world.
- Musée Nissim de CamondoA splendidly elegant mansion and former home of the Camondo's with an evocative, unforgettably tragic family history.