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.

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Rue de Valois 3, Paris, France
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Founded: 1629
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in France

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jim C (4 months ago)
We ran around in the gardens and had a good time. The columns of different heights provided much more entertainment than I thought they would. A good place to take a break or let kids run off some steam. And not very busy. Open early and late, if you need something to do when other places are closed.
Peter Joe (5 months ago)
This place is small but in my opinion the nicest garden in all of Paris. The way it is enclosed by palatial buildings, and the comfortable seats around the fountain make for a peaceful break from the crowded streets. See the photos for yourself.
David Pope (6 months ago)
Beautiful enclosed park. We went late August. The park is surrounded by a covered walkway you can use to stay dry if it rains. Make sure to head to the Southern end to check out the square with black and white painted columns. It's a perfect place for kids to run around and explore.
Matthew Turner (6 months ago)
I like to come and sit here to eat lunch. When it is warm, there is a rush for the chairs, so arrive early! I think it would be nicer with a bit more grass and a bit less gravel, but I think that about most Parisian parks. The art installations are quite nice too.
Alexandra P. (8 months ago)
Beautiful historic garden, decorated with colorful roses and refreshed with sparkling fountains. A great place to eat your take-away lunch, if you don't mind sharing the area with lots of office workers, enjoying their meal sitting straight on the ground. If you want to touch the history and feel as if you were in an old classic French movie, highly recommend to spend some magic moments in there!
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.