Sunday, October 22, 2006

Paris - Grand Palais and Pétit Palais

Across from the Pont Alexandre III in Paris are the Grand Palais and Pétit Palais.

The Grand Palais was built in 1900 for the World's Fair. The construction began in 1897, following the plans of architects Deglane, Louvet and Thomas. The building measures 240 meters wide and 40 meters tall. Currently the Grand Palais houses the 'Palais de la Découverte', with interactive exhibits, a planetarium and other temporary exhibitions. Next to it, the Pétit Palais, houses the 'Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris' (fine arts museum).

The Grand Palais consists of stone, glass and steel architecture. The Pétit Palais was built in the Art Nouveau style.

The Pont Alexandre III connects the Grand and Petit Palais on the right bank with the Hôtel des Invalides on the left bank. The bridge, with its exuberant Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses at either end, was built between 1896 and 1900. It was named after Tsar Alexander III (father of Nicholas II) of Russia. It was Nicholas II who laid the foundation stone in October 1896.

The construction of the bridge is a marvel of 19th century engineering, consisting of a 6m high single span steel arch. The design was subject to strict controls that prevented the bridge from obscuring the view of the Champs-Élysées or the Invalides.

The bridge was built by the engineers Résal and Alby and inaugurated in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition.
Sources: Les Cars Rouges, Virtourist: Paris, Wikipedia: Pont Alexandre III

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