Chaillot (13)

This district was once a country village that was absorbed by Paris in 1860, along with another two villages called Passy and Auteil, forming what is now District 16.

The hill of Chaillot was the fief of two religious orders: the Order of the Minim Brothers and that of the Salesians, destroyed in 1794 by the explosion of an arsenal. It was on this hill with spectacular views over the Seine where Napoleon wanted to build “largest and most extraordinary palace” for his son, but he never managed to finish it, with only the walls just about being built.

This area of Paris has always attracted the wealthy, elegant and powerful classes of Paris, which is why you can find big Modernist and art deco buildings alongside old country houses. Walk along its streets and avenues and you will be amazed at the architectural mix. For example, we recommend you walk from the Arc de Triomphe towards Trocadéro along Avenue Kleber. And if you go west, towards the Passy district.

In 1878 the Place du Trocadéro was created and the hill began to be decorated for the nearby Universal Exhibition of 1899, for which a large palace in Moorish style was ordered to be built. However, the Parisians did not like it much and they ended up replacing it with the current Palais de Chaillot in 1937, a neoclassical building designed by Azéma, Boileau and Carlu. They conserved structures of the old palace, destroyed the minarets and widened its two wings.

Since the palace was to be one of the centres of the Universal Exhibition of 1937, its decoration was entrusted to 71 painters and sculptors who represented all the tendencies of French art. This is why the building is adorned with sculptures, bas-relief and even inscriptions in gold by the poet Paul Valéry. Its galleries, steps and vestibules conserve their original decoration, the work of the best painters of the time.

This large palace currently houses 3 museums and the French Film Library. These museums are the Museum of Man, the Marine Museum and the Museum of French Monuments.

Alongside the palace is the Place du Trocadéro, also built for the Universal Exhibition of 1878. Although originally it was known as the la Place du Roi-de-Rome in homage to Napoleon’s sin, you can currently see an equestrian statue of Marshal Ferdinand Foch, author of some military publications, whose victories against the Germans were key fro France in the First World War. His tomb, clearly, can be found in Les Invalides.

When the Nazis invaded Paris in 1940 the systematically razed any reminder of their defeat in 1918, but they forgot this statue. Now isn’t that odd?

Another building we would like to highlight from this area is the Palais de Tokyo which houses the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. It was built in 1937 for the Universal Exhibition to be a modern art museum. The building is the work of four architects: Dondel, Aubert, Viard and Dastugue, who based their project on the search for and use of natural light.

In this special space you will be able to see a summary of all the most important artistic tendencies of the 20th and 21st centuries. We recommend you stop on your way to see its temporary exhibitions and also enjoy its restaurant or cafeteria.

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