Chaillot Palace

Chaillot Palace (Palais de Chaillot) was constructed for the 1937 Paris World Exposition, and has a great, central location in the city, opposite the Eiffel tower (on the other side of Seine river).

Palais de Chaillot, which is located on a small hill, replaced, in fact, another palace, the (demolished) Palais du Trocadéro on the location…and was used as an exhibition space during the Paris L’Exposition Internationale de 1937, the Paris World Exposition.

There have been significant buildings at the same location, however, ever since “Couvent de la Visitation” was built to the place from 1651, but destroyed during the French Revolution, 1789-1799.

Once the old convent was gone, there were several plans to fill the now empty space the destruction had left behind. One of these plans was byNapoleon, whose idea was to build an imperial city in honor of his son, Napoleon II, who had just been crowned the King of Rome.

Another plan was for a gigantic Napoleon statue, big enough to fill the entire plot of land.

However, the lot remained empty up to the 1878 Paris World Exposition, when Palais du Trocadéro, a design by Jules Gabriel & Davioud Bourdais, was build here.

“Trocadero” on the palace’s name was a tribute to Duke of Angoulême’s victory at Fort du Trocadero during a French military campaign in Spain, in 1823.

Chaillot Palace in Paris

PHOTO: Palais de Chaillot, a view from the opposite side of Seine river, Port de la Bourdonnais, which leads towards Pont Alexandre III.

Joie de Vivre Palais de Chaillot Paris France

PHOTO: The palace gardens, “Trocadero gardens” are extensive, at 93,930 m2 (23.2 acres), and cover the walkway from Palais de Chaillot to the banks of Seine river. Sculpture on the picture is “Joie de Vivre” (“Joy of Life”), by Léon Divier.

Le Guerrier Romain Pont d'Iena Paris France

PHOTO: Trocadero gardens are connected to the Eiffel tower via Pont d’Iéna bridge (over Seine river). The bridge has four statues, each portraying soldiers (with horses) from different periods of time. The statue in the picture (on the Eiffel tower side of the bridge) is titled “Un Guerrier Romain” (“A Soldier of Rome”), by Louis Daumas (from 1853).

Statue Palais Chaillot stairs Paris France

PHOTO: Palais de Chaillot is situated on top of a small hill, and to get there from the Trocadero gardens, you need to climb ceremonial stairs with many beautiful statues and other artworks.

Hercules statue Palais de Chaillot Paris France

PHOTO: The pictured sculpture, located in front of the palace, is by Albert Pommier. It portrays Hercules with an ox, and was commissioned for the opening of the 1937 World Exposition in Paris. On the other side of Place des Droits de l’Homme, there is a similar artwork, by Henri Bouchard, that one portraying Apollo, the ancient (Roman) god of music and poetry.

Place des Droits de l'Homme Palais Chaillot Paris France

PHOTO: The two Palais de Chaillot wings are separated by Place des Droits de l’Homme square. The square highlights include seven gilded (bronze) female (and one male) statues, all from 1937. Of these statues, closest ones on the photo are, Alexandre Descatoire’s “La Jaunesse” (“Youth”) and “Le Matin” (“Morning”) by Jean Paris.

Similarly to the Palais du Trocadéro, also Palais de Chaillot (a design by architects Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, Jacques Carlu, and Léon Azéma) was designed to have two wings, forming a wide arc…

…which were, in fact, built taking advantage of the original Trocadéro palace foundations.

However, unlike at the Trocadero palace, Palais de Chaillot wings are not connected to each other via a central building.

Instead, there is now a vast square, offering dramatic panoramas to the surrounding areas, especially to the Eiffel tower.

Today, the Chaillot palace buildings are used to house several Paris museums:

  • Musée national de la Marine (Maritime Museum, www.musee-marine.fr) – “Passy” wing
  • Musée de l’Homme (“Museum of Man”, www.mnhn.fr) – “Passy” wing
  • Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (Architecture and Monuments Museum, www.citechaillot.fr), formerly known as Musée national des Monuments Français – “Paris” wing

From the “Paris” wing, you can also find the Théâtre national de Chaillot (www.theatre-chaillot.fr).

For a short period in time, the buildings also housed the first NATO headquarters, up until Palais de l’OTAN (now a Université Paris Dauphine campus) was completed.

The name of the palace square, “Place des Droits de l’Homme”, comes from the fact that Chaillot palace was the place where United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in 1948.

Chaillot Palace

Address: 1, Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, 75116 Paris, France
Official website: CiteChaillot.fr

Written to the sides on the palace wings, there is memorial poetry by Paul Valéry. For example, a poem on the Musee de l’Homme side (“Passy” wing) reads as (the original is in French):

“It depends on what happens
I am a tomb or a treasure
Whether I speak or stay silent
This depends on you
There is no friendship without the will”

To get to the palace and its gardens with Paris metro, the closest station is at “Trocadéro”.