The Colonial Palace of the Bois de Vincennes

Palais des Colonies Image courtesy of Discover Paris

Palais des Colonies
Image courtesy of Discover Paris

In 1931, the French government hosted an extraordinary event in Paris called, the International Colonial Exposition. The Exposition featured exhibits and pavilions of eight countries that possessed colonies or protectorates throughout the world, including France, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the United Kingdom, Holland, Portugal, and the United States.

The expo was held on a 270-acre plot of land lying just outside eastern Paris in the Bois de Vincennes park.

Among the pavilions that were constructed for the exhibition, the Colonial Palace remains intact today. Designed by architect Albert Laprade, its tall, slim columns support an overhang that protects a stone façade sculpted in bas-relief on three sides by artist Alfred Janniot.

Janniot’s sculptures are a remarkable sight. They depict France’s colonial subjects industriously engaged in farming, fishing, hunting, and extracting raw materials from which France profits. On the western side of the façade, workers in Martinique cut sugar cane; on the left-hand side of the southern façade, several workers in Africa harvest palm fruit and peanuts. On the right-hand side of the southern façade, workers in Asia gather rice or tap a rubber tree; and on the eastern side, fishermen in Oceana catch an abundance of fish in their nets.

Within the main auditorium of the palace, large frescos painted by Pierre Ducos de la Haille present a complement to the images depicted on the façade’s stone tapestry. The bas reliefs of the façade portray the material benefits that France reaps from its colonies; whereas, the frescos by Ducos de la Haille portray the multiple benefits that the colonies gain in return. Allegorical figures of Peace, Justice, Liberty, Science, Art, Commerce, Industry, and Work are juxtaposed with images of the colonizers performing good works in the colonies. One fresco portrays colonists caring for the sick, while another shows a clergyman freeing two slaves.

France Offering the Dove of Peace to the Five Continents

France Offering the Dove of Peace to Five Continents
Image courtesy of Discover Paris

The central fresco in the main auditorium is the most telling of the manner in which France wanted to portray itself during the exposition. Entitled France Offering the Dove of Peace to the Five Continents, it depicts a fully-clothed woman holding the hand of a statuesque Europe on her right while extending a dove to a group of naked African women emerging from a jungle on her left. Behind her and to the left are half-nude female Asian figures emerging from another jungle. Below her, to her left and right, recline two nude female figures that represent Oceania and America. Here we see France at the center of the world, distributing the benefits of prosperity and peace to her colonial subjects.

Palais de la Porte Dorée (formerly called Palais des Colonies)
293, avenue Daumesnil
Paris 75012
Métro: Porte Dorée (Line 8)
Tramway: Porte Dorée (Line 3a)

Open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday until 7:00 p.m.

Access into the entry hall and the main auditorium is free.


Tom Reeves
Discover Paris

Travels with 2k - Part 4 Paris to Reims

Travels with 2k – Part 4 Paris to Reims

Riding Rail Europe to Reims, the home of Champagne production made me excited beyond description. From the time I began studying wine in the mid-90’s, I daydreamed about visiting this historic region that garners respect from those who revere the bubbles in a glass many hold dear. The train ride from Paris to Reims is only 45 minutes, long enough to develop an appreciation for the beautiful, French countryside. Crossing the countryside, seated in a smooth moving, clean, and efficient Eurotrain allowed me to exhale. However, along with the deep breath I remembered a sweater was not the only thing I forgot to buffer the September chill. I also left behind my two favorite French wine region books.

On the Train

On the Train

The view from inside a taxi en route from the train station into the town of Reims to our Bed and Breakfast, Les Telliers is stunning. The tree lined streets and preserved buildings, some dating back to the 13th century ooze history.

Taxi View

Taxi View

Streets off boulevards are narrow and character rich. Each building reflects its own personality. The blending of old and new, tradition integrated with the present creates an environment unlike the U. S. Reims is not inundated with chunks of franchises, the same stores everywhere you look. While riding in the taxi, I’m eager to walk around Reims to explore the shops and restaurants calling my name.

Tree Lined Streets

Tree Lined Streets

Streets of Reims

Streets of Reims

Streets of Reims 2

Streets of Reims 2 

2 K


4 Countries – 7 Cities – 2 Weeks

Coping with a Layoff? Travel to Europe

Americans in Europe for the First Time

Welcome to 2k Travels Near and Far. The following is the first installment in a series that focuses on traveling to cities around the U.S., and to Europe after a layoff.

During the approaching fall of 2009, my husband was laid off from the technology industry, again. We both had gigs that required us to travel. He racked up air and hotel points traveling to work in Australia and Canada. I earned points traveling around the U. S to help execute corporate and pharmaceutical marketing meetings. Our three kids, kids-no-more but 20-somethings able to fend for themselves allowed us an opportunity to think about what we wanted to do next as a couple. Should we stay in Miami, hoping things turnaround, again? Do we leave Miami and transplant ourselves in a more tech-centric part of the country?

Unfortunately, we had given up on home ownership due to multiple layoffs that forced us to sell a home built in Miami and a new condo on the ocean bought with the intent of creating a cushiony, revenue stream-until the economy crashed after September 11, 2001, and remained rocky for the technology industry in Florida for multiple years. Moving from the Midwest to Miami, a year before September 11, we had hopes for a flourishing technology hub that did not really take off.

My husband who always has an idea, dropped the following statement on me: “Let’s go to Europe!” My mind was immediately troubled by his exclamation. We were renting a townhouse. One son moved out to live with his girlfriend, but the other son still lived with us. Our daughter lived in NYC. Nevertheless, what would we do with all our stuff? Pondering our options reminded me of genius comedian George Carlin’s commentary about how houses are just places to hold all the stuff we buy. The bigger the house, the more stuff. Another consideration, where would the one son go? Could we really pack up and leave?