When you live in a tourist-centred city it is easy to miss out on much that city has to offer. “I can always do that another time” is the best friend of laziness.
Becoming a tour guide has really made me examine Paris through new, fresh eyes and I wish I had done so much more in the nearly 3 years that I have lived here.
Having friends to visit helps to rectify this though. Last month we had a visitor over from ‘le Yorkshire’ and she and I decided to check out the Georges Braque exhibition at the Grand Palais.
Before we arrived I warned her that there were bound to be lots of people, huge queues, and little room to enjoy the paintings once inside.
I wasn’t trying to be a downer, I just know from experience what the Grand Palais is like. It turned out to be worse than we imagined, a 2.5 hour wait, so we popped across the road instead to the Petit Palais, a free fine arts museum in Paris that I had never even visited before!
We took about an hour and a half looking over the permanent collection (art covering 18 centuries!) as well as admiring the impressive belle époque building. Then of course the obligatory half an hour swooning over the beautiful books in the shop.
The Petit Palais, and Grand for that matter, were built in 1900 for a world’s fair; impressively large and decorative buildings to house impressive temporary exhibitions- perfect for converting into art museums.
The smaller of the two was designed by architect Charles Girault and has a lovely airy feel to it as soon as you step into the vestibule entrance. Also in the centre of the building is a beautiful garden space, home to a cafe these days.
The collection itself was impressively expansive. The layout was slightly confusing and I would prefer an easier chronological route, but all in all it was an interesting bunch of art. There really is something for everyone here; impressionism, renaissance, 17th century, Christian world, Classical, furniture. And I was joyed to see a couple of lovely ladies by Pierre Bonnard.
We both thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Petit Palaism and I will definitely be going back (not just because it’s free!)