This historic and political highpoint of Paris is
one of the capital's most charming locations, a favourite summer picnic
spot for locals with its landscaped gardens and refreshing fountains.
These gardens are filled with chestnut trees; around which
interestingly enough took place some of the initial revolutionary
meetings. Where in 1789 a young Camille Desmoulins rallied a crowd and
then led them on to the Tuileries for one of the first anti-royalist
protests; a protest that was swiftly suppressed in a characteristically
The Palais Royal has managed to retain
the feel of times gone by, its mosaic paved arcades populated by quaint
and eclectic boutiques. Here you will find merchants specialised in toy
soldiers, medals, even felt hats. Lovers of haute couture will discover
second-hand gems and those after a simple coffee or meal will enjoy the
restaurants, which offer near unparalleled tranquility for an outdoor
lunch in Paris.
A simple stroll around the Palace
arcade is bliss, particularly on rainy days as it is entirely covered.
The architect Jacques Lemercier built the elegant structure in 1628.
The palace itself was commissioned by
the Cardinal of Richelieu, who had desired a palace within a stone’s
throw from the Louvre. Anne of Austria sought refuge here briefly with
the young Louis XIV, preferring the Italian intimacy of the
surroundings to the solemn majesty of the Louvre.
From the 18th century the Palace
became one of Paris’ most sought after locations, men of commerce and
ladies of the night alike setting up shop within. Molière lived
not far from the Palace at 40, rue de Richelieu.
Today one section of the Palace is
home to the Minister of Culture. Another, on the Place Malraux, holds
the Comédie française. Also located within the building
is the prestigious gastronomic restaurant the Grand Véfour.
A touch of the present was added to
the Palace court in 1986 when the sculptor Buren installed black and
white striped columns. Whilst perhaps not to everyone’s taste the mix
of 20th century sculpture with the immortal classicism of the 18th
century building ensures that this magnificent building continues to
evolve and enchant.