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Paris Grand Palais ready for Olympics after major renovation

French President Emmanuel Macron praised the renovation of the Grand Palais in Paris on Monday as it prepared to hand over the historic venue to host Olympic fencing and taekwondo. 

“Four years ago, we were told that it was still crazy,” said Macron of the restoration project, which he said was the largest in the country alongside that of the fire-damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral. 

“(But now) the whole world will rediscover the Grand Palais,” he said. “As a place of creation, of exhibition, of knowledge, of welcoming the public.” 

Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, the Grand Palais has been closed since March 2021 for the renovation but is due to be handed over to the Paris Olympics organising committee on Friday. 

Sat alongside the River Seine, its huge glass roof and unique green metal frames will be the backdrop to the taekwondo and fencing events from July 27.

Daniel Sancho, head of the renovation, said the goal was “both to respect the monument and to propel it into our century, with the need to bring it up to standard”. 

That includes fire-proofing the metal frames and creating enough emergency exits to allow an increase in visitor numbers from 5,600 to 9,000. 

During the Games, athletes will enter through the grand staircases — “jewels of Art Nouveau which have regained their original bronze colour,” said Sancho. 

Work in adjoining spaces will continue — with a pause for the Games — until March, with a full re-opening set for June 2025.

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