Thursday, 13 March 2008

Petit and Grand Palais

The other weekend I paid a visit to the Petit and Grand Palais in Paris, for those of you who have ever visited Paris, the Grand Palais is the very impressive looking, glass-roofed building on the other side of the Seine from the Louvre. I had seen this building everytime I visited the Louvre or many other tourist attractions and always thought that it looked like yet another palace built for one king or another. When I visited it though I discover it was actually built in 1900 for the "Exposition Universelle" and houses temporary exhibitions. Unfortunately it wasn't housing anything the day I visited and so I could only peer through the glass doors to see what was inside. That really ruined my dreams of opulence, inside it just looked like a big barn, and as they were preparing for the next exhibition there was even a truck parked in the middle of the hall, not what you imagine when you think of royalty.

Across the road is the Petit Palace, I suppose it was slightly smaller. This was also built in 1900 for the same exposition, I
guess they were feeling particularly creative with the names in 1900. This now houses the Musee des Beaux-Arts, I have discovered that Beaux-Arts in French basically means "random collection of stuff that we couldn't fit anywhere else". That said the building was amazing and as it was free and fairly empty it was a nice way to spend a few hours on a cold spring day.

Inside the Petit Palais was a courtyard which had some cherry blossoms starting to bloom. The building had been designed so you could see the courtyard as you walked past the paintings, which made you feel like you were outside whilst admiring the art.

Of course it being Paris the gallery had to have an impressionists room, though they went for a different look at this place, I guess they have to try and stand out from the crowd.

I loved this life-size statue of a woman, and yes that is a monkey she has on her leash.

I hope this last photo gives you some impression of the scale of the building, you really had a sense of space and air as the ceiling was far above you. Initially as I was walking around I was thinking this place must have been hell to heat back in the day when some rich folk owned it, and then I learn that (a) it is fairly recent and (b) no-one ever lived here, so the scale became a little more understandable. That 1900 exhibition must have been one hell of an exhibition though.

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