The Palais Royal was built in 1629 by Cardinal Richelieu, an influential French minister. It became a royal palace after the cardinal bequeathed the building to King Louis XIII. Louis XIV, the Sun King, spent his youth here before moving to the nearby Louvre and later to Versailles.
Between 1871 and 1874, Louis-Philippe d'Orléans, cousin of King Louis XVI expanded the palace by adding arcades and shops. At the time the galerie d'Orléans, the colonnaded space that separates the garden from the cour d'honneur also housed gambling dens, cafes and there were even prostitutes of both sexes.
The Palais Royal was mobbed during the revolution of 1848 and was almost destroyed by fire in 1871. Fortunately the basic structure survived. After its restoration in 1876 the building was handed over to the government. It currently houses the Council of State and other government offices.
The palace is not open to the public, but you can visit the courtyard and the garden. The courtyard, known as Cour d'Honneur, is dominated by a large sculpture by Daniel Buren, installed in 1986. It consists of 280 black and white striped truncated columns. Adjacent to the courtyard is the Galerie d'Orléans, a courtyard flanked by two colonnades. It is home to two modern fountains created by the Belgian sculptor Pol Bury.
The galerie d'Orléans leads to the Jardin du Palais Royal, the palace garden. The garden is formally laid out around a central fountain. It is a quiet refuge in the heart of the city. The current garden is somewhat smaller than originally designed in 1630 for Cardinal Richelieu due to the construction of sixty arcaded buildings on three sides of the park by Louis-Philippe d'Orléans in 1874. The buildings around the garden now house restaurants, deli shops and galleries.References:
The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.
Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.
Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.
In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.
The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.