Musée du Petit Palais ☆☆

The interior of the Petit Palais (Photo by François de Dijon)
The interior of the Petit Palais

The Musée du Petit Palais (or "Little Palace") in Paris is like a mini-Louvre—only it's free of charge and devoid of crowds

The "Little Palace" is a bombastic building left over from the 1900 Universal Exposition.

It is now the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris (the Fine Arts Museum of the City of Paris), and is stuffed with what would be the greatest museum in Paris that mixed painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and ancient statuary...if only the Louvre weren't just down the street.

The great thing about playing second fiddle to a major sight is: no crowds. Also, they're so unnecessarily modest about their status they don't even feel they have the right to charge admission. That's right: it's free.

While the Petit Palais is pretty weak on the early Renaissance, it really picks up steam when it gets to the 17th century, especially when it comes to those Flemish Old Masters—Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Rubens.

By the 19th century, names like Corot, Courbet, Delacroix, Géricault, Ingres, Monet, Manet, Cézanneand Renoir are added to the roles.

There is also a fine roster of temporary exhibits (those usually cost, though).

Photo gallery
  • The interior of the Petit Palais, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo by François de Dijon)
  • Le Petit Palais, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo by Jean-Louis Zimmermann)
  • Statue in the Petit Palais, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo by Martin Robson)
  • Virgin and Child (1497) by Cima da Conegliano, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • La Femme à l'éventail (Woman with a Fan) (1919) by Amedeo Modigliani, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Self-portrait in Oriental Attire (1631) by Rembrandt, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Sunset on the Seine at Lavacourt, Winter Effect (1880) by Claude Monet, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Le Printemps (Spring) (1860) by a 20-year-old law student named Paul Cézanne, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Thee Bathers (1879–82) by Paul Cézanne, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • The little dog’s dance (1758) by François Boucher, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Marietta, or Roman Odalisque (1843) by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • The Little Alms Collector (1663–65) by Jan Steen, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Knight, Death and the Devil (Bartsch 98) (1513) by Albrecht Dürer, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Ivory chest decorated with mythological scenes and rosettes from Constantinople, 9-10C, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo by Sailko)
  • Portrait of Juliette Courbet( 1844) by her big brother Gustave Courbet, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Young Ladies on the Banks of the Seine (1857) by Gustave Courbet, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • The Sleepers (1866) by Gustave Courbet, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • The death of Seneca (1773) by Jaques Louis David, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Combat of the Giaour and the Pasha (1835) by Eugène Delacroix, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Monfa Driving his Mail-Coach in Nice (1881) by Toulouse-Lautrec, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Diana Resting (1640s) by Jacob Jordaens, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Old Man with a Stick (1888) by Paul Gauguin, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Le Sculpteur Aubé et son fils (The Sculptor Aubé and his Son) (1882) by Paul Gauguin, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • , Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Jérôme de La Lande (1769) by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Francis I Receives the Last Breaths of Leonardo da Vinci (1818) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Mademoiselle de Lancey (1876) by Charles Durand, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Madonna and Child with Saints (1490s) by Andrea Mantegna, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • The Wedding Procession (1623) by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • Ephebe from the Fins d'Annecy, c 30 BC, modeled after an original by Polykleitos, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo by Sailko)
  • Fight in front of the City Hall on 28 July 1830 (1833) by Jean Victor Schnetz—note that the wounded child at the barricades with the flag predates Gavroche in Victor Hugo's Les Miserábles by a solid three decades, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)
  • The Church at Moret (Evening) (1894) by Alfred Sisley, Musée du Petit Palais, Paris (Photo Public Domain)

Tips

How long should I spend in the Petit Palais?

Figure on spending about 90 minutes here.

Useful French phrases

Useful French for sightseeing

English (anglais) French (français) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Où est? ou eh
...the museum le musee luh moo-ZAY
...the church l'eglise leh-GLEEZ
...the cathedral le cathédrale luh ka-teh-DRAHL
When is it open? Quand est-il ouvert?  coan eh-TEEL oo-VAIR
 
When does it close? A quelle heure est-ce que cela ferme? ah kell eur es kuh suhla fair-MAY
ticket billet d'entrée bee-YAY dahn-TRAY
two adults deux adultes dooz ah-DOOLT
one child un enfant ehn ahn-FAHN
one student un étudiant uh-NETOO-dee-YON

Basic phrases in French

English (anglais) French (français) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you merci mair-SEE
please s'il vous plaît seel-vou-PLAY
yes oui wee
no non no
Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais? par-lay-VOU on-GLAY
I don't understand Je ne comprende pas zhuh nuh COHM-prohnd pah
I'm sorry Je suis desolée zhuh swee day-zoh-LAY
How much does it cost? Combien coute? coam-bee-YEHN koot
That's too much C'est trop say troh
     
Good day Bonjour bohn-SZOURH
Good evening Bon soir bohn SWAH
Good night Bon nuit  bohn NWEE
Goodbye Au revoir oh-ruh-VWAH
Excuse me (to get attention) Excusez-moi eh-skooze-ay-MWA
Excuse me (to get past someone) Pardon pah-rRDOHN
Where is? Où est? ou eh
...the bathroom la toilette lah twah-LET
...train station la gare lah gahr

Days, months, and other calendar items in French

English (anglais) French (français) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quand est-il ouvert? coan eh-TEEL oo-VAIR
When does it close? Quand est l'heure de fermeture?   coan eh lure duh fair-mah-TOUR
At what time... à quelle heure... ah kell uhre
     
Yesterday hier ee-AIR
Today aujoud'hui ow-zhuhr-DWEE
Tomorrow demain duh-MEHN
Day after tomorrow après demain ah-PRAY duh-MEHN
     
a day un jour ooun zhuhr
Monday Lundí luhn-DEE
Tuesday Maredí mar-DEE
Wednesday Mercredi mair-cray-DEE
Thursday Jeudi zhuh-DEE
Friday Vendredi vawn-druh-DEE
Saturday Samedi saam-DEE
Sunday Dimanche DEE-maansh
     
a month un mois ooun mwa
January janvier zhan-vee-YAIR
February février feh-vree-YAIR
March mars mahr
April avril ah-VREEL
May mai may
June juin zhuh-WAH
July juillet zhuh-LYAY
August août ah-WOOT
September septembre sep-TUHM-bruh
October octobre ok-TOE-bruh
November novembre noh-VAUM-bruh
December décembre day-SAHM-bruh

Numbers in French

English (anglais) French (français) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 un ehn
2 deux douh
3 trois twa
4 quatre KAH-truh
5 cinq sank
6 six sees
7 sept sehp
8 huit hwhee
9 neuf nuhf
10 dix dees
11 onze ownz
12 douze dooz
13 treize trehz
14 quatorze kah-TOHRZ
15 quinze cans
16 seize sez
17 dix-sept dee-SEP
18 dix-huit dee-SWEE
19 dix-neuf dee-SNEUHF
20 vingt vahn
21* vingt et un * vahnt eh UHN
22* vingt deux * vahn douh
23* vingt trois * vahn twa
30 trente truhnt
40 quarante kah-RAHNT
50 cinquante sahn-KAHNT
60 soixante swaa-SAHNT
70 soixante-dix swa-sahnt-DEES
80 quatre-vents  kat-tra-VAHN
90 quatre-vents-dix  kat-tra-vanht-DEES
100 cent sant
1,000 mille meel
5,000 cinq mille sank meel
10,000 dix mille dees meel


* You can form any number between 20 and 99 just like the examples for 21, 22, and 23. For x2–x9, just say the tens-place number (trente for 30, quarante for 40, etc.), then the ones-place number (35 is trente cinq; 66 is soixsante six). The only excpetion is for 21, 31, 41, etc. For x1, say the tens-place number followed by "...et un" (trente et un, quarante et un, etc.).

‡ Yes, the French count very strangely once they get past 69. Rather than some version of "seventy,' they instead say "sixy-ten" (followed by "sixty-eleven," "sixty-twelve,' etc. up to "sixty-nineteen.") And then, just to keep things interesting, they chenge it up again and, for 80, say 'four twenties"—which always make me thinks of blackbirds baked in a pie for some reason. Ninety becomes "four-twenties-ten" and so on up to "four-nineties-ninteen" for 99, which is quite a mouthful: quartre-vingts-dix-neuf.