(Bonjour. I am Lindy I have lived in the beautiful city of Paris since 2009, and I would like to share my personal top 10 things to do in Paris if you are visiting on a shoestring, or just if you want to get away from the madding crowd at the Eiffel tower!)

petit palais 3

4 – The ‘Petit Palais’

The ‘Grand Palais’ and the ‘Petit Palais’ are situated in the 8th ‘arrondissement’ on opposite sides of ‘Avenue Winston Churchill’, which lies mid way down the lovely tree lined lower part of the ‘Champs Elysees’ between the ‘Place du rond point’ and ‘Place de la Concorde’, and are a stones throw from metro station ‘Champs Elysees Clemenceau’ which is served by metro lines 1 and 13.

Built in 1900 for the ‘Exposition Universelle’, the imposing Grand Palais with its enormous glass dome houses temporary, usually prestigious, art exhibitions and prices vary accordingly.

The more discreet and more classically designed Petit Palais’ which is, in my opinion one of the loveliest buildings in the city, has been home to the ‘Musée des Beaux Arts de la ville de Paris’ since 1902, and also plays host to temporary exhibitions for which there is a fee, but as one of the 14 ‘Museums of the city of Paris’ all permanent exhibitions are entirely free.

(Please note that during popular temporary exhibitions there is often a queue at the main entrance, if you are visiting the permanent collection only there is a smaller entrance down some stairs to the right of the main entrance)

The Petit Palais stretches either side of a palatial stone staircase leading to a magnificent arched gateway, fabricated in glass and wrought iron and surrounded by an intricate stone arch, which is a joy to behold and photograph in both daylight and floodlit during the evening. (there is access for wheelchair users on Avenue Detuit situated at the back of the building accessible from the Champs Elysees)

Petit Palais 2

The majestic main entrance to ‘Le Petit Palais’

The interior of the building is every bit as impressive as the exterior. From the elegant wrought iron staircases, and wonderful mosaic floors and beautiful decorative murals to the fabulous stained glass ‘Cupole’.

It is constructed in four wings enclosing a tranquil ‘Moroccan’ style garden with a central pool surrounded by shady exotic plants and a semi circular peristyle that boasts a frescoed, vaulted ceiling depicting the hours of the day, day and night and female allegories of the four seasons.

Overlooking the garden is the café where you can enjoy an excellent ‘Café Gourmond’ or a selection of pasta dishes, sandwiches, and ‘soupe de jour’ with prices starting at under 5 euro. They also offer a glass of Bordeaux for a modest 4 euro! This is a convenient place to take a break after a morning shopping and sightseeing on the Champs Elysees, and there are clean free toilets to be found both in the café and in the basement of the museum.

Petit Palais 5

View from the café terrace

The museum houses collections from the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and amongst many other works, paintings by Flemish and Dutch artists such as Rembrandt and Rubens. French artists such as Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Renoir and Toulouse-lautrec. Sculptures by Renoir and Rodin, and many decorative arts including wonderful art deco pieces by Emile Gallé and Lalique, and fine examples of Christian art from the western and eastrn world.

For those seeking souvenirs, the museum shop offers a good choice gifts with prices starting at less than 4 euro, and is a nice place to browse through the numerous books on art nouveau.

After visiting the Petit Palais, Avenue Winston Churchill is interesting in its own right. Flanked by a statues of both Charles de Galle and Georges Clemenceau at one end (De Galle is practically next to the metro and Clemenceau on the opposite side of the road) and Winston Churchill at the other (a little further on from the entrace to the petit palais) This Avenue leads onto ‘Pont Alexandre III’, also constructed for the Universal Exhibition in 1900 to symbolise unity between France and Russia with the first stone having been laid by Tsar Nicholas II. This distinctive bridge which is guarded at each side by two pillars bearing gilded bronze statues of Pegaus, crosses the Seine and leads directly onto the ‘Esplanade des Invalides’ affording a marvellous view of ‘Les Invalides’, the final resting place of the Emperor Napoleon.

Petit Palais 1

Statue of Winston Churchill

Practical Information

The petit Palais is open every day except Mondays and public holidays

Opening times are (correct at publication):-

10am – 6pm

Late night opening Thursdays until 8pm

Admission charges:-

Permanent exhibitions – free

Temporary exhibitions – prices vary





  1. lindaravello says:

    Please do Michelle – I plan to write my ‘top 10’ and some other supplementary ones like the ‘Fete de la Musique’ I am currently also devising some mini tours, mainly on foot, but some with minimal metro usage. Ultimately tis is what I would like to do, so any positive feedback that I could put on a cv would be great. When are you coming…..(of course, I will give you a personal guided tour and a meal from the blog……..)

  2. Four Pesky Hobbits Mama says:

    Hi Lindy,

    I’m sorry to have been so long replying to your messages-it’s been a difficult few weeks here. I hope you enjoyed your break back in Liverpool catching up with friends and family.

    I love your photos of the Petis Palaus-we had a very enjoyable visit here on one of our Paris days. Such a beautiful building and all free! I loved the entrance. I will enjoy reading your top 10 places to visit, it seems like ages since we were in Paris but it’s only been just over 3 weeks!

  3. lindaravello says:

    I had better get writing Zoe – You would not like it here atm forecast temperatures of 39 today. I was glad to get to Liverpool to cool down and feel some rain on my skin (we are officially in a drought situation here with reduced water pressure)
    Number one on my top ten is anywhere with air con x

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