The smaller sister museum to Paris’ famous Grand Palais, this purpose-built exhibition space houses works from esteemed artists such as Cézanne and Rembrandt.
Petit Palais contains the Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris, Paris’ municipal museum of fine arts. Visit to admire the stunning Beaux-Arts style building and to discover the surprisingly vast collection of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, manuscripts and other objects, ranging from antiquity to the 20th century.
Petit Palais is located on Avenue des Champs-Elysées opposite its counterpart, the Grand Palais, which was also built for the Universal Exposition of 1900. The Beaux Arts-style structure was designed by architect Charles Girault, who also supervised the team behind the nearby Grand Palais.
Before entering the exhibition space, admire the attractive façade. Like many buildings in the Beaux Arts style, it features Greek and Roman-style components such as Ionic columns, as well as more elaborate decorative ornamentation.
Inside the building, find an impressive array of memorable artwork that spans several centuries. Set over two levels, the art is arranged in sections, each covering a major artistic movement. Start with the early classical section, where you can see bronze objects, terra-cottas, glasswork, gold and jewelry from the Greco-Roman era.
In the 17th-century section, look for paintings by Dutch and Flemish masters including a Rembrandt self-portrait and the Abduction of Proserpina by Rubens. French artists are well represented in the collections. You’ll find lesser-known treasures from artists such as Gauguin, Monet, Manet, Cézanne and Delacroix.
Look for the section dedicated to Paris at the turn of the century, the very time when the Petit Palais was built. Don’t miss the Art Nouveau dining room by Hector Guimard and the colorful Art Nouveau vases of innovative French glassmaker Émile Gallé. When you’re finished surveying all the collections, sit for a drink in the pleasant garden café.
Petit Palais is in the 8th arrondissement next to the Champs-Élysées – Clémenceau metro stop. Entrance to the Petit Palais permanent exhibitions is free, but there may be a charge for temporary exhibits. The museum is closed on Mondays and on major public holidays.