A neighbourhood guide to Palais Royal
October 26, 2022
Palais Royal, past and present
Architect Jacques Lemercier – best known for the Sorbonne Chapel – designed Palais Royal in the 1630s for Cardinal Richelieu. While both Louis XIII and XIV resided here, the fall of the monarchy didn’t necessitate a fall from grace for the magnificent building. It’s now the home of the Ministry of Culture, with visitors also welcome (it’s just a 10-minute stroll from Le Meurice, in case you were wondering). Contemporary pillars designed by French conceptual artist Daniel Buren rise from one of the courtyards like scattered humbugs. They make for the perfect Instagram shot – or an impromptu game of hide and seek.
Place Colette, 75001 Paris
What could be more Parisian than a sophisticated shopping arcade? The portico that encircles Palais Royal’s tree-lined courtyard houses designer Rick Owens’ Parisian boutique, Manolo Blahnik’s couture footwear, and Maison Fabre, where elegant leather gloves are available in every colour of the rainbow. Nearby Maison Bonnet has been a family-run business since it was founded in the 1930s. It specialises in handmade gold and tortoiseshell glasses, recognised by France’s Minister of Culture for their quality. Velvet armchairs, dim lighting and glasses displayed under spotlights make it feel more like an art gallery than a shop.
Rick Owens, 130-133 Galerie de Valois, 75001 Paris
Manolo Blahnik, 11-12 Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris
Maison Fabre, 128-129 Galerie de Valois, 75001 Paris
Maison Bonnet, 5 rue des Petits-Champs, Passage des Deux Pavillons, 75001 Paris
Time seems to slow down once you enter Palais Royal’s leafy garden, originally designed for promenading families displaying the latest fashions and friendships. Today, gravel crunches beneath your feet as you take in the beautifully carved statues, flanked by carefully planted flowerbeds and intricate topiary. Close your eyes and listen to the soothing trickle of the fountains as you reminisce of a bygone era.
Dance and dine
You’re in the city of love – so do as Parisians do and dance the tango. Learn the corte step or observe pirouetting locals over an apéritif at Le Nemours, a brasserie between the Louvre and Palais Royal. Unwind beneath parasols on the heated terrace, or dine inside in the artistic, contemporary interior. It’s a Parisian institution that serves classic dishes such as croque monsieur and French onion soup. If you’re feeling like something different, trendy Café Kitsuné serves up a menu infused with Japanese style cuisine – think yuzu and honey tea, fox-shaped biscuits, or red bean paste mochi.
Tango meeting spot, 1 Place Colette, 75001 Paris
Le Nemours, 2 Place Colette, 75001 Paris
Café Kitsuné, 51 Galerie Montpensier, 75001 Paris
An evening at the theatre
Little has changed inside Théâtre du Palais-Royal since it was founded in 1783. Take a seat in the stalls to enjoy its beautifully-preserved interiors, including grand chandeliers, an Italian fresco and sculptures on the ceiling. Next door, France’s national theatre Comédie Française rivals Théâtre du Palais-Royal for its beauty, with a colonnaded exterior dating from 1680. Turn any night into a special occasion by sinking into its red velvet chairs, underneath gilded balconies.
Théâtre du Palais-Royal, 38 rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris
Comédie Française, Richelieu Room, 1 Place Colette, 75001 Paris
The original palace hotel in the heart of historic Paris, Le Meurice with its splendid newly-restored rooms and suites is the very epitome of quiet elegance and is alive with the artist's soul of wit and magic.
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