Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées

The Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, commonly known as the Grand Palais is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France. Construction of the Grand Palais began in 1897 following the demolition of the Palais de l’Industrie (Palace of Industry) as part of the preparation works for the Universal Exposition of 1900, which also included the creation of the adjacent Petit Palais and Pont Alexandre III.The structure was built in the style of Beaux-Arts architecture as taught by the École des Beaux-Arts of Paris. The building reflects the movement’s taste for ornate decoration through its stone facades, the formality of its floor planning and the use of techniques that were innovative at the time, such as its glass vault, its structure made of iron and light steel framing, and its use of reinforced concrete.

The Palais served as a military hospital during World War I, employing local artists that had not deployed to the front to decorate hospital rooms or to make moulds for prosthetic limbs. The Nazis put the Palais to use during the Occupation of France in World War II. First used as a truck depot, the Palais then housed two Nazi propaganda exhibitions. The Parisian resistance used the Grand Palais as a headquarters during the Liberation of Paris. On 23 August 1944 an advancing German column was fired upon from a window on the Avenue de Sèlves, and the Germans responded with a tank attack upon the Palais. The attack ignited hay that was set up for a circus show, and over the next 48 hours, thick black smoke from the fire caused serious damage to the building. By 26 August, American jeeps were parked in the nave, followed by tanks from the French Second Armored Division, completing the liberation of the building.

A little known fact is that the Grand Palais has a major police station in the basement which helps protect the exhibits on show in the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, and particularly the picture exhibition “Salons” as the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, Salon d’Automne and Salon Comparaisons. The building’s west wing also contains a science museum, the Palais de la Découverte. The couture fashion house Chanel annually hosts many of its fashion shows here, setting up elaborate and expensive surroundings for its models and hosts.

Official Website – www.grandpalais.fr

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