Nestled in the heart of Paris’ first arrondissement, just opposite the Louvre, the Jardin du Palais-Royal has been providing entertainment to Parisians and travellers alike for centuries.
But it’s also one of the most serene places in the Paris, with picture perfect gardens and broad galeries, just made for people watching or strolling. Add in the fact that you can even partake in a bit of high end shopping or enjoy a top-flight meal and it’s little wonder that the Palais-Royal remains a perennial Parisian draw card! Join me as I explore one of my very favourite Parisian destinations.
History meets cutting-edge art
If you are entering the gardens from the Place du Palais-Royal, perhaps after taking the Paris Métro to the conveniently placed and interestingly decorated Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre station, you will initially come across the Cour d’Honneur.
Since 1985, this classically designed inner courtyard has been home to an art installation named ‘Les Deux Plateaux’. Created by conceptual artist Daniel Buren, the piece comprises a series of striking – and extremely photogenic – black and white marble cylinders.
I’ve always marvelled at the French ability to mix their historic buildings with cutting edge art in such an unapologetic way. I’m sure it is one of the factors that add to Paris’ endless appeal. Wander through the cylinders, consider the art, and feel free to capture it all in a photograph or two.
Discover vintage French glamour at Didier Ludot
Are you a Francophile who is also into vintage fashion? Do you just adore French haute couture? If the answer is a resounding yes to either of these questions then the Didier Ludot boutique in the Palais-Royal is an absolute must visit.
Many a time have I gazed through the windows of the boutique at the various accessories by famous French names like Hermès, Chanel and Dior. This store really is a goldmine for those keen to discover vintage French glamour.
24 Galerie Montpensier
Indulge at Le Grand Véfour
I’m quite sure that the majority of guests visit the historic restaurant Le Grand Véfour to sample Guy Martin’s culinary expertise. But I’m also sure that quite a number make a reservation just to experience the magnificent decor of the restaurant originally known as Café de Chartres. The classic decor takes diners back in history as they enjoy this two Michelin starred restaurant.
Although the address is not technically listed as being in the Jardins du Palais-Royal, the restaurant sits comfortably at the very far edge of the gardens, in the Galerie de Beaujolais.
Le Grand Véfour
17 Rue du Beaujolais
Savour the scents at Les Salons du Palais Royal
This jewel box of a store is unlike any perfume or cosmetics counter I’ve ever visited. The lighting is subdued, the colours opulent and the staircase is worth visiting in its own right.
Like many boutiques in the Palais-Royal, you press the doorbell when you wish to enter. You will immediately be attended to by lovely assistants, all very willing to showcase the gorgeous wares.
Try one of the many modern perfumes, or follow the lead of Inès de la Fressange and purchase the perfect red lipstick, which is named ‘Mise à Mort’ and is perfectly presented in a small hexagonal case.
Palais Royal-Serge Lutens
142 Galerie de Valois
Ramble through the perfectly manicured garden…
In 1634, the architect Jacques Lemercier was entrusted with building the Palais-Royal (or the Palais Cardinal as it was then known) for the Cardinal Richelieu. Over the years, the residence has housed French royalty and even played a leading role in the revolution. The Palais-Royal was also home to the famed French writer Colette.
When I wander through the beautifully manicured gardens, it is hard not to imagine the Palais-Royal in earlier times. But you just can’t ignore what is happening in the gardens today. I’ve enjoyed watching men playing pétanque and been enthralled by the antics involved with professional photographic shoots. The central fountain is my very favourite fountain in Paris, and is a perfect spot for Francophiles to join with the locals in enjoying that very French activity of people watching.
With so much to see and do in a relatively small space, it is easy to see why the historic Jardin du Palais-Royal continues to attract lovers of all things French.
Do you have a favourite destination in Paris? Are you also a fan of the Jardin du Palais-Royal? If so, we’d love for you to share in the comments below.
All images © Scott Gould.