The Grand Palais will reopen in time for the Olympics

For the first time, the building will be open not only during the summer, but also during the longer hours of the day, allowing visitors to experience the changing light beneath its glass roof. “We want to work with the sun,” says Fusilier. “In the Grand Palais you can see the sunrise and the sunset, because you're directly beneath the sky.”

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The indoor plaza in the nave is open to the public without an admission ticket.

Laurent Kronenthal/Grand Palais

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The building's exterior, including its Art Nouveau metalwork, was polished.

Laurent Kronenthal/Grand Palais

This planned transformation was made possible mainly through an architectural transformation led by the French firm Chatillon Architectes. Much of the building's exterior has been restored in various stages over the past 20 years, including the intricate sculptures and friezes that make up the façade's only polychrome decoration. While most of these transformations are not visible to the naked eye, the architects performed various “surgeries.” For example, they spent 18 months replacing the frigid concrete floors in the nave with heated ones. They also added 48 elevators to improve accessibility and installed 20 staircases to access the upper floors, increasing the overall capacity by 60%, from 5,600 to 9,000 people.

But the biggest change is clearly visible, at the heart of the building: the architects have created a kind of “indoor plaza” there, opening the door to the public and, for the first time in decades, allowing visitors to look up at the nave and its famous glass roof without having to buy a ticket.

The Grand Palais is technically three separate buildings: the nave, the Galerie National, and the Hall of Discovery, each designed by a different architect and then walled off from each other. (Only the nave will reopen this summer, the rest will follow in 2025.) By creating this indoor plaza—a move that lead architect François Châtillon considers “a natural” move—the team has created a more unified visitor experience, unifying the buildings into a truly “grand” palace.

In 2025, the Grand Palais will also host a range of exhibitions from the Centre Pompidou, while the postmodern icon undergoes an estimated five-year renovation: an exhibition featuring works by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle, known for their eccentric kinetic sculptures, is scheduled to open in June 2025.

But for now, this lady is ready to throw open her doors, fill her social calendar, and bask in the glow of flashbulbs once again.

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