Essential Architecture-  Paris

Grand Palais and Petit Palais


designed by Henri Deglane, Albert Louvet and Albert Thomas under the supervision of Charles Girault. 


close to the Seine on the Avenue Winston-Churchill near the Champs-Élyseés-Clemenceau Metro station.


Developed for the Exposition Universelle of 1900




masonry and steel and glass


Exhibition hall
  Grand Palais, left, and Petit Palais, right

Grand Palais in 2004

Grand Palais

The Grand Palais ("Grand Palace") is a large glass exhibition hall that was built for the Paris Exhibition of 1900. It is located in the VIIIe arrondissement of Paris.

Built at the same time as the Petit Palais and the Pont Alexandre III, the exterior of this massive palace combines an imposing Classical sont façade with a riot of Art Nouveau ironwork.

The building was closed for 12 years for extensive restoration work after one of the glass ceiling panels fell in 1993. It reopened on Saturday 24 September 2005.

A little known fact is that the Grand Palais has a major police station in the basement which helps protect the exhibits on show, and particularly the picture exhibition "Salons" as the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, Salon d'Automne and Salon "Comparaisons".

Art Nouveau  Interior of a dome in the Grand Palais


Petit Palais

The Petit Palais is a museum in Paris, France. Built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900 by architect Charles Girault, it now houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris.

Arranged around a pretty semi-circular courtyard and garden, the palace is similar to the Grand Palais. Its ionic columns, grand porch and dome echo those of the Invalides across the river.

The current exhibits are divided into sections: The Dutuit Collection of Medieval and Renaissance paintings, drawings and objets d'art; the Tuck Collection of 18th century furniture and the City of Paris collection of works by French artists, such as Jean Ingres, Eugène Delacroix and Gustave Courbet.

It served as model notably for Royal Museum for Central Africa near Brussels.

Grand Palais's great horse sculptures (quadrigas) facing the Pont Alexandre III bridge. 

Its enormous but elegant metallic structure is hidden by a classical stone façade designed by Henry Deglane. The entrances are decorated with monumental sculptures, the most famous of which are the quadrigas of the lateral entrances by the sculptor Georges Récipon. The dimensions of the Grand Palais are impressive: the façade on the Avenue Winston-Churchill is 787 feet long, and the top of the dome is 144 feet above the ground. The building is used as a venue for temporary exhibitions, but since 1937 its western portion has housed the Palais de la Découverte, a museum devoted to scientific discoveries. Unlike the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais was built primarily to function as a permanent museum. It now houses the art collections of the City of Paris. Its architect, Charles Girault,engaged a number of important sculptors and painters to decorate the building.

Text and illustration quoted from- "Paris, Buildings and Monuments" An Illustrated Guide with over 850 Drawings and Neighborhood Maps. By Michael Poisson. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 463 pp, 1999.


Official site of the Grand Palais (in French, German and English)