Paris III: Le Grande Répertoire–Machines de Spectacle


The Grand Palais from Ave du M Gallieni.

The Grand Palais, opposite the Petit-Palais, was built in 1897–1900 by Louvet, Deglane, and Thomas. Its dimensions, covering all area of about 38,000 sq. yds, are imposing. It consists of a large front building, united with a smaller one in the rear by a transverse gallery. The style is composite, but mainly reminiscent of the 17th century. The façade is adorned with a double colonnade, rising to a height of two stories; and there are three monumental entrances in the central pavilion. The sculptures of the central portico, representing the Beauty of Nature, and Minerva and Peace, are by Gasq, Boucher, Verlet, and Lombard. Those to the right represent Sculpture, Painting, Architecture, and Music, and are by Cordonnier, Lefebvre, Carlès, and Labatut. To the left are the Arts of Cambodia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, by Bareau, Suchet, Béguine, and Clausade. On and under the colonnades are friezes of Amoretti, holding the attributes of the arts. At the top are a balustrade, allegorical groups on the abutments, by Sepsses and Greber, and bronze quadrigae, by Récipon. In the middle of the principal building rises a depressed dome. The rear-façade, in the Ave d’Antin, is embellished with colonnades, sculpture, and friezes in polychrome stoneware, made at Sèvres (Ancient and Modern Art).

In 1900 this building is to be used for contemporary and centennial exhibitions. Afterwards it is to be the scene of the annual exhibitions of paintings and sculptures, horse shows, agricultural fairs, and the like. Its destination explains the peculiarities of its internal construction. The roof is glazed, consisting of curved sheets of glass 10 ft. long and 3 ft. wide.

Baedeker’s Paris (1900).

One of the highlights of this trip was a visit to the wonderful Grand Palais to see an exhibition of invented machines that wouldn’t have been out of place in La Cité des Enfants Perdus or a Terry Gilliam film. The slightly run-down but still splendid venue was the perfect setting for rusted contraptions devoted to making loud noises or smashing things to pieces. The exhibition is still running should you have the good fortune to be in Paris up to the 13th of this month.

Le Grand Répertoire
Machines de spectacle (Machines from the Street Theater)
Exhibition produced by the Association La Machine
Concieved by François Delarozière
Grand Palais (8e), July 14th thru August 13th (Every day except Monday)
From 2pm to 11pm (Last entry at 10pm)
Tickets 5 Euros – Reduced price 3 Euros

Do you know how to calculate the perfect trajectory for catapulting a piano without hurting any spectators? Have you ever cruised in a rolling bathtub or a motorized toilet? François Delarozière, machine engineer, unveils some of the greatest impertinent inventions of the street theater, many of them from the creative minds of the company Royale de Luxe. This unique exhibition brings these extraordinary machines to life through interactive and humorous performances by street theater actors. These experts will divulge the secrets of such machines as the automatique Nutella spreader or the olive thrower in demonstrations throughout the day.


Inside the Grand Palais.






Machine à tourner les pages.


Catapulte à piano.


Machine à cymbales et canon.


Spine of a giant book.


Jacqueline la poule.


Machine à soulever les robes.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Jessica Joslin

One thought on “Paris III: Le Grande Répertoire–Machines de Spectacle”

  1. I saw this exposition yesterday with some friends and I must say it was terribly entertaining. I highly recommend it to everyone, even those who do not speak French and who cannot understand what the street theatre actors are saying. Their antics are explanatory and funny enough. Thanks for including the explanation of this show on your web site.

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