On the radio one day I heard that the Grand Palais was moving to a new location. I went to Place Joffre across from the Ecole Militaire and the Champ-de-Mars–Nothing. Shortly after, I heard on the radio work had begun. I jumped on bus 86 and headed for the Eiffel Tower, missed my stop but saw this looming wood structure jutting out above the trees. The first frames secured on delivery trucks were being pieced together. A few weeks later, I returned to the construction site to check on progress. The Grand Palais Ephémère (temporary) is a wooden dual-framed structure is well underway in its new location with a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower. Photos and video at the end of the story. Video of the scene.
After four temporary facelifts (1993*-2006, 2010, 2012 and 2014), the 120 year-old Grand Dame will be updated from the 20th to the 21st century. Place Joffre will serve as the Grand Palais’s home until 2024. The plan is to open around January 2021 and be home to the traditional shows until 2024. Then the re-baptized “Arena de Champ-de-Mars” venue will host some Paris and France Olympics and Paralympics events. The structure, shaped as the current Grand Palais, will be dismantled and can be used for other events anywhere in France.
When you visit the site, read the story of the Grand Palais and the activity in French and English on the aluminum-corrugated walls facing the Ecole Militaire and the Eiffel Tower with Kera Till’s illustrations. The RMN Grand Palais gave illustrator of fashion, books and press stories, Kera Till carte-blanche to update illustrations of the Grand Palais. Her work is available on Instagram and her website: http://keratill.com If you wish to follow the construction, sign up for the newsletter using the QR code I have provided.
*I attended the 1993 exhibition“Design, miroir du siecle” at which a rivet fell from the metal structure, bounced off a Jean-Paul Gaultier-designed tobacco box and landed at the foot of a visitor. This lead to the closing of the Grand Palais until 2006.
The Renovated Grand Palais
The 21st century standards include: accessibility, insulation, increased capacity, two new auditoriums, a roof terrace and both north and south entrances. Details available on the Ministry of Culture website. The Grand Palais was built between 1897 and 1900 for the World’s Fair 1900 and dedicated to the glory of French art (Beaux arts). This will be the first integral restoration in the Grand Palais’s 120-year history.
Grand Palais video and document resources:
RMN (Réunion des Musées Nationaux) Grand Palais channel
Brief history video in images and music
The Grand Palais, an Outstanding Construction (History) ! (set subtitles to English)