What to see at the Grand Palais in Paris: timetables, prices and tips

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

1900 was a year of very strong infrastructural development for Paris due to the need to adapt the city to host two world-class events: the Olympics and the Expo. The Gare de Lyon, the Gare d'Orsay, the Alexander III bridge, La Rouche, the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais were then built, conceived as the main venue for the Expo. Today is one of the most visited museums in France.


  1. What to see and how to visit Grand Palais
  2. Palais de la Decouverte
  3. Les Galeries Nationales
  4. Le Nef
  5. Hours and prices
  6. User questions and comments

What to see and how to visit Grand Palais

With its 77.000 square meters it houses three distinct sections.

In the rooms of Le Nef du Grand Palais, important exhibitions, concerts, screenings and cultural events are hosted; in the west wing is the Palais de la Découverte, a museum opened in 1937 and dedicated to science; neither Les Galeries Nationales it hosts the exhibitions of some of the most important artists of the '900, including Matisse, Picasso and Renoir. Inside the structure there are also a cinema and an elegant restaurant. During the Christmas period, a gigantic indoor ice rink is installed under the glass dome of the entrance.

1 - Palais de la Decouverte

The area dedicated to science is very large and divided into thematic rooms, some also interactive and multimedia. Below is more information on the specific thematic areas:

  • Physics: it is presented in an interactive and fun way; from Newtonian mechanics to particle physics, electricity, acoustics and much more. Visitors can independently perform a series of experiments.
  • Earth Science: in this room phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, tsunamis, drought are highlighted, explaining their evolution and dangers. There is also a rich section on fossils.
  • Astronomy: three rooms are dedicated to astronomy. The Sun and planets area is dedicated to the knowledge of the solar system, the History of Astronomy is dedicated to the development that this science has had from the times of the Babylonians to the seventeenth century, while Cosmology provides a complete overview of the latest theories on the universe.
  • Mathematics: mathematics has a dedicated room where you will be surrounded by an infinite sequence of figures and where theories applied are explained.
  • Life Sciences: here we explain the key fields of human biology, from anatomy to genetics. Another area is dedicated to communication using sight, sound, touch, electricity and even chemicals.
  • Professional Chermisty: this is one of the funniest rooms, where chemists conduct real experiments to explain phenomena in everyday life.
  • IT and technology: new area dedicated to machines, computers, algorithms, coding and data, big data, artificial intelligence, robotics and networks.
  • Planetary: under a diameter of 15 meters, a starry sky is reproduced with exceptional clarity: 9.000 stars, five planets, the Sun and the Moon. The audience is led by an astronomical expert, who explains a number of astronomical phenomena.

2 - Les Galeries Nationales

This part of the building hosts the most important temporary exhibitions and cultural events organized by the Association of French National Museums are held. The proposed arts range from painting to cinema, photography and sculpture. To check the proposals, please visit the official website.

3 - The Nef

Under the beautiful glass and steel dome in the center of the building, the huge space is used for various exhibitions and events, such as the car fair, thematic exhibitions and high fashion shows. During the Christmas period a large ice skating rink is installed and in 2018 it was the seat of the prestigious "Golden Ball" football award won by the Croatian Modric.

Hours and prices

  • open every day from 10:00 to 20:00. Wednesdays from 10:00 to 22:00 - during public holidays and during special exhibitions and events, the Grand Palais is open until 22:00 - closed on Tuesdays
  • Best time to avoid queues: the palace is always very crowded, especially when it hosts very popular temporary exhibitions. It is therefore advisable to go to the entrance no later than 10:00 or in the early afternoon.
  • full admission costs € 8,00 - admission to temporary exhibitions is paid separately and varies according to the event. It is possible to purchase the Sesame Pass which entitles you to unlimited admissions to 5 events at a cost of € 60,00
  • Reductions: reductions are available for ages between 18 and 26 and for students based on the event chosen
  • Free: free for those exhibiting the Paris Museum Pass and for under 18s

Useful tips for visiting the attraction

  1. Get up early: the ideal would be to reach the entrance by 9:30 am to get in line and be able to enter relatively early. Keep in mind that, for the proposals offered, it is possible to spend the whole day inside the building.
  2. Minimum time: a minimum time of 2 hours is required for an in-depth visit inside the halls of the scientific museum. Considering the other temporary exhibitions cyclically present, a visit time of at least half a day is recommended.
  3. restaurants: inside you can eat at the Mini Palais restaurant or in the Le Comptoir Moka and Les Galeries coffee bars

Where is it and how to get there

  • On foot: from the Gare de Lyon station it is about 5km away, which can be covered on foot in 1 hour following the long Seine to Cours la Reine. The main entrance is on Aavenue du Général Eisenhowers - Get directions
  • By bus: from Gare de Lyon station you can arrive in about 30 minutes with bus line n ° 24, Grand Palais stop.
  • By metro: from Gare de Lyon station you can arrive in about 20 minutes with the M1 or M9 line, Franklin-Roosevelt or Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau stop

Historical notes and curiosities

The Palace was built between the Champs-Élysées and the Seine in a classical style, with an imposing stone facade and an Art Nouveau style gate that opened onto a beautiful entrance garden which is still usable today. After the exceptional influx of visitors in the exhibition year, the palace continued to host events until the closure of 1993 due to structural damage and was reopened 12 years later. The weight of the material used to build the vault, the naves and the dome is equal to that used for the construction of the Eiffel Tower. The top of the building reaches a height of 45 meters. In the same period its twin was built just opposite, the Petit Palace, which today is the seat of the Museum of Fine Arts. During the First World War both were used as barracks or as a military hospital, while during the Second World War the Germans they used them to hold military vehicles.

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