With the vast quantity and variety of museums, monuments and architectural marvels available around the French capital, sometimes certain places become overlooked while visiting Paris. The Petit Palais is one of them. I have been coming to Paris on an annual basis for over ten years now and I had never entered this mixture of museum, palace, garden and restaurant. If I had know more about this charming and fascinating spot, I would have certainly added it to my list of places to visit and revisit while in town.
Built in 1900 facing its grand sister, the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais may not have the dimensions of its neighbor but it certainly has its own character and beauty. In 1902 the Petit Palais became The Fine Arts Museum of the City of Paris, and its permanent collection is open from Tuesday to Sunday with free entry at all times.
The permanent collection at the museum holds works from Monet, Courbet, Fragonard, Fouquet, Gaugin, Manet, Rodin, among others. The museum galleries, since the building seems to stay under the radar by the average tourist, is generally not crowded. Hence, wondering around the art pieces at the Petit Palais is often a relaxing and peaceful activity.
And if one is looking for a restful stop to the hustle and bustle of the city, a visit to the palace’s restaurant is a great way to recharge and reenergize. Facing the beautiful outdoor courtyard, the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and snacks all day long and with reasonable prices. Salads go from 8 to 10 euros, the dish of the day, which when I visited was risotto ai fungi with chicken, sold for 16 euros, and glasses of wine from different regions can be had for around 4 euros each.
With a free entrance fee, the Petit Palais is an architectural jewel of Europe’s Belle Époque. Even if it is just to pause and relax for a bit, a visit to this small palace is worth a stop and it might end becoming a great and unforgettable discovery in Paris.
Gus Dantas, publisher gusdantaslife, visited the Petit Palais in two occasions in September 2016, and in one of them paused for a delicious lunch facing the garden.