Monday, February 2, 2009

Le Petit Palais

Are you tired of the lines at the Louvre and Orsay, but still need your museum fix while in Paris? Well, hold onto your artistic hats. I know of a place that is perfect—made just for you. Located in the 8th arrondissement directly across the street from Le Grand Palais, Le Petit Palais collection is
a wonderful solution for those who wish to get the art-groove on—without the long wait. Built by Charles Girault for the World’s Fair of 1900, the building itself with its grand architectural appointments is a perfect example of Beaux Arts construction and is a magnificent work of art unto itself.

Furthermore, you can happily spend more money at lunchtime on the Champs, because this museum won’t cost you a cent. While traditionally Paris is expensive, especially when comparing the euro to the dollar, here you can take advantage of giving your pocketbook a break. Though the museum is free, don’t forget to pick up a ticket just the same. Look for the table in the grand entry area and an employee will gladly give you one. Hand your ticket to the security guard in the red jacket and you will be on your way.

Step into the museum and make sure to take a moment to notice the intricacy of the tiled floors, as well as the decorative ceilings. Believe me you won’t be disappointed. They are as much part of the beauty of this museum as the works of art the building is holding.

Le Petit Palais has a little bit of everything. Its permanent collection holds 45,000 pieces and displays approximately 1,300 at a time. Explore a bit of history from Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, on through to the art of the early 20th century. From decorative arts to furniture and jewelry to paintings and pottery, you can get a little taste of whatever your artistic palate is craving.

I personally delighted in seeing the exceptionally beautiful glass vases that were displayed while I was there. Located in the first room, my eyes automatically feasted on the pieces designed by Tiffany and his contemporaries around the turn of the 20th century. Each individual vase was propped on a podium and displayed under glass. So, I was able to give each and every one a close look at any angle. I had never seen such an extensive collection of glass art from this time period in one location and I counted my good fortune for being able to view it all here.

The art and the magnificent building were not the only thing that captured my attention. One thing that fascinates me about the culture here, is that you may see a group of youngsters sitting Indian style with their teachers getting a head start on their artistic education. Watching six-year-old children enthusiastically giving all their attention to the teacher’s description of the museum’s collection brought a smile to my face and soul and more than likely will do the same for you. No wonder the French appreciate the finer things in life. They are introduced to it from such an early age.

To get there, start at the Place du Concord traversing on the Champs-Élysées towards the Arch de Triomphe. After only short walk you will arrive at Avenue Winston Churchill. Turn left and voila you have two museums to visit. If you still need more from your museum fix walk across the street to Le Grand Palais afterwards. Then continue your trek down the Champs for a bite to eat.

Just another perfect Parisian day!

Le Petit Palais
Avenue Winston Churchill
75008, Paris
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm
Metro: Lines 1 & 13, Champs-Elysees Clemenceau Station

Cost: FREE
Audioguides available (for a small fee)

Thank you for reading and bonne journée!