Sssshhhhh…..this is my most favourite spot in Paris. Frequented largely by Parisians, I don’t want it over-run with tourists. So if you promise to keep this address to yourself, I’ll tell you about it.
It’s called the garden of the Royal Palace – le jardin du Palais Royal – and it’s a sublime sheltered retreat tucked behind a courtyard near the Louvre. The long, rectangular garden is hemmed in by elegant arcades that border its perimeter. Exclusive boutiques are to be found in 18th-century shopping galleries. As well as two or three restaurants. And other treats.
I love the faded grandeur of the buildings. The author, Colette, lived in one of these apartments overlooking the garden.The history of this palace and its grounds is so long and fascinating that I couldn’t possibly write it all here. But here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia (a snippet history lesson) -
Originally called the Palais-Cardinal, the palace was the personal residence of Cardinal Richelieu. Construction began in 1633 and was completed in 1639. Upon Richelieu’s death in 1642 the palace became the property of King Louis XIII and acquired the new name, Palais-Royal. When the King died the following year, it became the home of the Queen Mother Anne of Austria and her young sons Louis XIV and Philippe, duc d’Anjou.
From 1649, the palace was the residence of the exiled Henrietta Maria and Henrietta Anne Stuart, wife and daughter of the deposed King Charles I of England. The two had escaped England in the midst of the English Civil War and were sheltered by Henrietta Maria’s nephew, King Louis XIV.
House of Orléans
Henrietta Anne was later married to Louis’ younger brother, Phillipe de France, duc d’Orléans in the palace chapel on 31 March 1661. The following year the new duchesse d’Orléans gave birth to a daughter, Marie Louise d’Orléans, inside the palace. After their marriage, the palace became the main residence of the House of Orléans. The Duchess created the ornamental gardens of the palace, which were said to be among the most beautiful in Paris. Under the new ducal couple, the Palais-Royal would become the social center of the capital.
You could easily spend half a day here. There’s a beautiful fountain in the middle. Tree-lined allées that provide shade.There are little squares of rose garden in which to sit to read a book, contemplate life, people-watch, write your memoir.Where young princes once strolled, local boys today play soccer.And at the far end, near the entrance, is an inner courtyard containing the controversial columns designed by artist, Daniel Buren.I love the interplay between modern and classical.
I love the jardin du Palais Royal. It’s French, it’s fabulous, it’s forever. Pour toujours.