The Grand Palais in Paris: everything you need to know!

Imposing gallery building for temporary exhibitions

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Situated between the Seine and the Champs-Élysées is the Grand Palais of Paris, an exhibition building for art and culture. Even from the outside, the imposing building of the classicist Baroque is worth seeing…

Currently, the Grand Palais is unfortunately closed. Either way, you should totally visit the exhibition building with the impressive glass roof! We will show you for what the building is usually used and why it’s currently closed.

What is the Grand Palais Paris?

The Grand Palais is an exhibition building with changing (art) exhibitions in Paris, which was built in the course of the Universal Exhibition in 1900. Together with the Petit Palais opposite and the nearby Pont Alexandre III, it forms an architectural ensemble of the Belle Époque. The Grand Palais means the large palace and Petit Palais is the small palace.

On a cruciform ground plan, the 220-meter-long and 44-meter-high building is divided into an event hall, a gallery with changing exhibitions and the Palais de la Découverte science museum. A police station is also located within the walls. The highlight of the building is the great hall with the glass roof: 450,000 air volumes on an area of 13,500 square meters occupy the roof. Before the renovation, however, you could unfortunately only see the roof from the inside if you had tickets for the event taking place in the hall. Next to the main portal on Avenue Winston Churchill, the various entrances are located at the four sloping ends of the wing buildings, framed by grand staircases.

Visit the Grand Palais in Paris

Currently, the original palace is closed for renovations, so you can only see the building from the outside. The building is expected to reopen in time for the 2024 Olympics.

  • Yet, you should definitely pay the palace a visit (from the outside) during a walk. From the Invalides Cathedral you walk over the Pont Alexandre III towards the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais and can marvel at the architecture on the forecourt. Afterwards, it’s a good idea to stroll on towards Champs-Élysées.
  • You can also catch a spectacular view of the Grand Palais on a boat tour on the Seine. With a 3 to 4-course menu, champagne or an apéritif and live music, you drive along the Seine and enjoy the view of Paris’ most beautiful sights.

Boatcruise with aperativBOATCRUISE WITH DINNER

Pont Alexandre 3 et Grand Palais

Using of the Grand Palais

The building offers over 5,000 square meters of exhibition space. The Mondial de l’Automobile exhibition was held here for 60 years, from 1901 to 1961. Various exhibitions, book and antique fairs and even concerts were held in the halls. The luxury brand Chanel presents its latest collections here twice a year in front of elaborate backdrops and is considered the highlight of the Paris fashion show.

But not only art takes place in the palace, but also for sporty purposes the building is used more often. For example, horse shows are held here and during the Christmas season, there is a large ice skating rink under the glass roof. In addition, the fencing & taekwondo competitions will be held here during the 2024 Olympics.

Transitional building: the Grand Palais Éphémère

On the Champs de Mars, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais Éphémère by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte was built in 2021 opposite the École Militaire, serving as an interim palace. It is here that the events that would normally be held at the Grand Palais take place. At the same time, the building is also slated to host the Olympic Games in the summer of 2024. Afterwards, the building is to be dismantled again.


History of the Grand Palais

In 1896, an architectural competition was announced. Located on Avenue Winston Churchill, the Grand Palais was to replace the Palace of Industry built for the 1855 World’s Fair. At the same time, the Petit Palais was to be built directly opposite. Since no design was convincing, four architects were ultimately involved in the construction, which took only three years. In time for the World’s Fair, then President Émile Loubet inaugurated the building on May 1. During the World’s Fair, the Palais was intended to represent the glory of French art, as illustrated by the inscription “La Gloire de l’Art Français”. Since then, the gallery has been used for various exhibitions and events.

During World War I, the structure was converted into a lazaret. In 1964, the north wing was converted into gallery space. Since then, the space has been used for major international art exhibitions such as FIAC.

Among the largest and most successful exhibitions were the 1983 Manet exhibition and the 1985 Renoir retrospective, both of which attracted over 800,000 visitors. Because a connecting element of the glass roof fell off in 1993, the building underwent 12 years of extensive renovation. Since 2005, the Palais have been part of the National Museums (Réunion des Musées Nationaux).

Profilbild Laura Schulze
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