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Spring days in "Petit Palais"


petit-palais-1.jpgIt is called a Small Palace (Petit Palais) but its architectonic look is not small at all, in its beauty the palace proudly competes with the neighbouring Grand Palais. The Palace was built at the occasion of the World Exposition "Exposition Universelle" in 1900 with the aim to create a perpendicular axe from the Alexander III. bridge to the Avenue Champs-Elysées. In 1900 the "Petit Palais", together with the Grand-Palais were the places of the biggest retrospective of the French art. The purpose of building both palaces was the idea to show to the public the noblest human creations in the impressive fancy premisespetit-palais-titul-2.jpg. 

In these days "Petit Palais" with the exposition "Paris 1900" commemorates the years of the "Belle Epoque" (Edwardian Era), the time when the palace was constructed. On the Avenue Winston Churchill between the Big and Small Palace in full speed the traffic is permanently flowing. On the pedestrian zone without the lights an elderly slim, almost fragile looking lady in the beige coat and a silk scarf straightens out her skinny arm and stops the traffic of the double-decker bupetit-palais-3.jpgses and cars driving at least 70 km per hour. She heads towards the crowd of Parisians dressed in a similar soft elegance, waiting in front of the Petit Palais for the exposition "Paris 1900". They wait patiently to see the show that whole Paris speaks about, being advertised in the corridors of the subway stations, exposition about Paris on the turn between the 19th and 20th centuries.
In 1900 Paris declared itself a capital of the world, a centre of modernity, art, fashion and gastronomy. "Belle Epoque" was a period when Paris enters in the mass culture, but it manages to keep its cultural originality. Parisians become passionate readers, they read short stories, almanacs, novels, crime stories, feuilletons, chronicles. Theatres flourish, as well as the concert coffee places, circus, cinema is being developed, people visit fairs and hippodromes. Women shop in the big fancy shopping malls "Grands Magasins", they spend their leisure time on the terraces of coffee places. Ecpetit-palais-4.jpgonomic boost enables also to the socially weaker classes to spend a small budget of money for the leisure time activities.
By the "Belle Epoque" the historians named a period between the economic crisis of the years 1870 and the world wars at the beginning of the 20th century. After 70 years of the archive shadow, a huge painting called "Le ventre de Paris" (A Belly of Paris) from Léon Lhermitte is shown to the public in the "Petit Palais". This monumental painting represents the busy life on the biggest Parisian food market at the end of the 19th century. In tpetit-palais-6.jpghe first position of the painting there dominates a young lady seen from her back, carrying a big basket with the poultry. The painting is full of action, full of details from the market, a soup being served to the vegetable sellers, price of salads being negotiated; you almost hear the noise coming from the market which used to supply the whole Paris.
In front of the palace together with a high colourful eye-catcher of the exhibition "Paris 1900" there is also an advertisement attracting to see an exposition of the Swedish painter Carl Larsson. The topic, completely different from the dissolute Paris of 1900ies, but still being from the same period. Painter who lived and worked at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, lived several years also in Paris and Grez-sur-Loing. In the joyful colours he shows the details of the everyday life of his family with six children in the Swedish countryside in Sundborn. In his paintings he captured the sensitive taste of his wife Karin, who was also a painter and she used her esthetical perception for a nice and soft decoration of their house. A picnic on the bank of the river, playing the petit-palais-8.jpgVikings, a little girl pulling a sleigh, hands in a Sunday prayer on the table with a checked table cloth, a little boy swinging on the white wooden horse, children looking through a key hole to the room with the gifts on the evening before Christmas, from his paintings you can feel the harmony of the everyday family life.
Whether you choose one of the temporary exhibitions or you will visit a permanent exposition of the Petit Palais, a pleasant break is the internal semi-circular garden which is in the middle of the four parts of the Petit Palais. In the exotic garden under the pergola with frescos and arches, colourful floor, big ceramic vases there is a coffee place where you can enjoy the "Lenôtre" pastries, a meal of the day, salads and sandwiches.
"Petit Palais" is one of the places that show the greatness of Paris.
Petit Palais: Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris. Metro: lines 1 and 13, stop Champs-Elysées Clémenceau. RER: line C, stop Invalides. Buses: 28, 42, 72, 73, 80, 83, 93.
Current exhibitions: 
"Paris 1900" - od 2. apríla do 17. augusta 2014.
"Carl Larsson" - od 7. marca do 7. júna 2014.
Vstup na prezretie stálej expozície: zdarma.
Maria Danthine, Paristep