Iconic Paris Landmark to Reopen This Summer After More Than 3 Years of Closure

Just in time for the Summer Olympics, visitors will get a sneak peek of this art nouveau masterpiece before its full reopening next year.

Empty interior of the Grand Palais, with arched glass ceiling and ornate, pale green metal supports

Visitors will be able to get a sneak peek at the renovations done inside of the Grand Palais in Paris this year.

Courtesy of Laurent Kronental for Chatillon Architectes

The Grand Palais, one of Paris’s most important exhibition spaces, will finally reopen this year after more than three years of being closed for renovations.

From July 26 to August 11, the Grand Palais will open its nave to part of the public to accommodate the 2024 Summer Olympic tournaments in both fencing and taekwondo.

The soft opening will allow members of the public with tickets to these Olympic events to see renovations that transformed the nave of the Grand Palais. The space will open again in October of this year to host Art Basel Paris before closing once more to finalize its last series of renovations. The exhibition space is expected to open permanently in 2025.

To see the renovations this year, you’ll need to have a ticket to one of the Grand Palais’s events. But according to the Réunion des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais, which oversees the Grand Palais operations, the space will be open to the general public in 2025.

The structure is a feat of art nouveau interior design. Artfully combining steel, stone, and glass, the Grand Palais is a relic of early 20th-century innovations. Visitors to the space will once again get the opportunity to see one of the building’s most impressive features, its massive glass ceiling, from the inside. The domed section of the ceiling sits over the central part of the nave. With 145,313 square feet of space, the domed ceiling is the largest of its kind in Europe, making it a must-see in Paris.

Balancing the past and the future

Empty interior of Grand Palais, with second-story balcony along 3 walls

The Grand Palais will feature new accessibility and fire safety measures when it reopens to the public in 2025.

Courtesy of Laurent Kronental for Chatillon Architectes

The Grand Palais closed in March 2021, largely to improve the building’s accessibility, restore its original exterior statuary, and renovate portions of the space that had been blocked off for decades.

The urban planning, architecture, and interior design studio Chatillon Architectes has guided the Grand Palais transformation over the past three years. The process has been long and meticulous, mostly due to the firm’s aim to preserve the integrity of the original design while also bringing the space into the future with updates that improve accessibility and fire safety standards.

Originally designed by a quartet of highly regarded architects—Henri Deglane, Albert Louvet, Louis-Albert Thomas, and Charles Giraud—the Grand Palais’s stunning interiors have gone through many incarnations since it opened in 1900. But Chatillon Architectes is carefully working to bring the building back to its design roots, ensuring that all upgrades honor the iconic building’s history.

François Chatillon, the founder of Chatillon Architectes, told The Art Newspaper that the process to decide on the new stone floor’s color—which is now made of a coral-hued thermo-concrete—took more than three years and multiple conversations with France’s minister of culture in order to honor the history of the exhibition hall.

“Everyone is familiar with the Grand Palais . . . yet it has many extraordinary spaces that are unknown, hidden for decades under successive modification,” Chatillon said in a press release detailing the logistics behind the reopening. Chatillon added that the effort to update the design work of the original architects, “as well as the modifications added in the 1960s by Pierre Vivien, is an approach that falls within a ‘new architectural modernity’ that refutes the principle of rupture by opposing it to one of historical continuity.”

A renovation 87 years in the making

Two views of shallow, wide staircases inside the Grand Palais, with curvy metal railings

The Grand Palais renovation has been helmed by Chatillon Architectes.

Courtesy of Laurent Kronental for Chatillon Architectes

In 1937, the stewards of the Grand Palais built a wall separating the building’s nave into two sections and closing off access between the east and west wings of the space to make room for the Palais de la Découverte in the west wing. The Grand Palais’s nave has remained split since then, severely reducing the physical capacity of the space.

When it reopens this summer, that wall will have been removed, returning the nave to its original grandeur and design. By unifying both halves of the space, the interior coherence of the space will be restored, creating more room to host bigger events.

With its new renovations, the Grand Palais will be able to almost double its capacity. Previously, the nave of the building could only hold 5,600 visitors. Once it reopens, the venue will be able to hold up to 9,000 people at one time.

Becoming a major hub for cultural events—again

Empty interior of Grand Palais, with metal columns

New spaces at the Grand Palais will be accessible to the public for free.

Courtesy of Laurent Kronental for Chatillon Architectes

With this reopening, the Grand Palais is looking to bring the space back to its roots as an exhibition hall. Originally constructed in 1894 as a site to host the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition, a world’s fair to celebrate France’s past and future technological advancements, the Grand Palais is arguably one of the most beautiful event spaces in Europe. Its metal frames and incredible glass ceiling bring an Old World charm to the events it hosts. And according to the leadership of the building, this new renovation will bring some of Europe’s most anticipated events to Paris.

The opening will usher in a brand-new phase for the historic exhibition space. The leadership of the Grand Palais is hoping to make the space into a mainstay for big cultural events in Europe with exhibitions, concerts, and numerous additional festivities all on the forthcoming roster of happenings in the space.

Already on the agenda following the fencing and taekwondo competitions at the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paris Art Basel in October, is Paris Photo, the largest international art fair dedicated to photography in the world, which will take place in November.

In 2025, three spaces at the Grand Palais will be open to the public for free. The Place de Centrale (the central plaza of the building), the Rotonde du Palais de la Découverte (the rotunda of the Palais de la Décourverte), and the Salon Seine (a section of the Grand Palais with a shop, restaurant, and children’s play area for visitors to relax in) will all be available for visitors to enter, free of charge. These new open spaces will be a step toward making the Grand Palais more accessible for visitors and locals alike.

Cat Sposato is Afar’s editorial assistant. Previously, she covered arts and culture for NPR Music, WNYC, LatinaMediaCo, and V Magazine. She’s known for her love of setjetting.
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