What the Petit Palais Is – History, Meaning and Style
The Petit Palais is one of the most important art museums in Paris. It was built for the 1900 Paris World’s Fair, and it now houses the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris). The museum has an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, objets d’art, and more. There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions, so there’s always something new to see.
The Petit Palais was built for the 1900 Universal Exposition (Exposition Universelle), which was a world’s fair that celebrated the achievements of the past century. It was held from April to November 1900, and over 40 million people attended. The fair was so popular that it inspired the city of Paris to build a number of new museums and cultural institutions.
The museum was designed by architect Charles Girault in the Beaux-Arts style, and it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris. It’s one of the two palaces that were supposed to replace the Palais de l’Industrie – the other is the Grand Palais.
The Petit Palais didn’t become a museum until 1902, and its decorative murals and sculptures took twenty years to complete. The façade is decorated with statues and reliefs that represent the arts, literature, and science.
The interior is just as impressive – made up of four wings, with a grand staircase and a glass dome. It’s structured around a semi-circular garden bordered by a richly decorated arcade. The courtyard is an exquisite place to take photographs.
Exhibitions at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris
The Petit Palais’ Fine Art Museum is home to a wide variety of exhibitions. It contains over 43,000 works in total, including paintings by famous artists like Rembrandt, Rubens, and Monet. The permanent gallery includes masterpieces like:
- Young Ladies on the Banks of the Seine (Summer) by Gustave Courbet;
- Woman with Monkey by Camille Alaphilippe;
- Marietta by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.
Temporary exhibitions change regularly, and they cover a wide range of topics. Recent exhibitions have included:
- The Art Nouveau Spirit – featuring the work of Pierre Roche;
- Boldini – consisting of Giovanni Boldini’s Belle Époque paintings;
- The Golden Age of Danish Painting (1801-1864) – including works by Christoffer Eckersberg, Christen Købke, Martinus Rørbye, and Constantin Hansen.
As you can see, there’s something for everyone at the Petit Palais! Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or just someone who appreciates beauty, you’ll find something to enjoy there.
How to Get to the Petit Palais
The Petit Palais is located on the Avenue Winston Churchill in the 8th arrondissement. It lies south of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and opposite to the Grand Palais. It’s easily accessible by public transport.
The closest metro station is Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau (lines 1 and 13), but you can also take line 9 to Franklin D. Roosevelt. If you’re taking the RER, the closest station is Invalides (line C).
The Grande Palais – Just Opposite Petit Palais
If you’re visiting the Petit Palais, you should also take some time to explore the Grande Palais. It’s located just across the street, and it’s one of Paris’ most iconic buildings. The Grande Palais was built for the 1900 World’s Fair as well, and it now houses a number of museums and cultural institutions.
Discover the Petit Palais in Paris for Yourself
Le Petit Palais is one of the most underrated museums in Paris. It’s often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, the Louvre, but it’s definitely worth a visit. So next time you’re in Paris, be sure to add it to your itinerary! You won’t regret it.
Have you ever been to the Petit Palais? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!
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