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.
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