Palais-Royal in Paris
The Palais-Royal, originally called the Palais-Cardinal, is a palace and an associated garden located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Facing the Place du Palais-Royal, it stands opposite the north wing of the Louvre, and its famous forecourt (cour d'honneur), screened with columns and, since 1986, containing Daniel Buren's site-specific artpiece, Les Deux Plateaux, known as Les Colonnes de Buren.
Originally called the Palais-Cardinal, the palace was the personal residence of Cardinal Richelieu. The architect Jacques Lemercier began his design in 1629; construction commenced in 1633 and was completed in 1639.
Françoise Marie de Bourbon, Duchess of Orléans
In 1692, on the occasion of the marriage of the duc de Chartres to Françoise Marie de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Blois, a legitimised daughter of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, the King deeded the Palais-Royal to his brother.
For the convenience of the bride, new apartments were built and furnished in the wing facing east on the rue de Richelieu. made himself popular in Paris when he opened the gardens of the palace to all Parisians and employed the neoclassical architect Victor Louis to rebuild the structures around the palace gardens, which had been the irregular backs of houses that faced the surrounding streets, and to enclose the gardens with regular colonnades that were lined with smart shops (in one of which Charlotte Corday bought the knife she used to stab Jean-Paul Marat).
Along the galeries, ladies of the night lingered, and smart gambling casinos were lodged in second-floor quarters. There was a theatre at each end of the galleries; the larger one has been the seat of the Comédie-Française, the state theatre company, since Napoleon laid its administrative reorganisation in the décret de Moscou on 15 October 1812, which contains 87 articles. The very first theatre in the Palais-Royal was built by Lemercier for Cardinal Richelieu, and inaugurated in 1641. Under Louis XIV, the theater hosted plays by Molière, from 1660 to Molière's death in 1673, followed by the Opera under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Lully.
From the 1780s to 1837, the palace was once again the centre of Parisian political and social intrigue and the site of the most popular cafés. The historic restaurant "Le Grand Vefour" is still there. In 1786, a noon cannon was set up by a philosophical amateur, set on the prime meridian of Paris, in which the sun's noon rays, passing through a lens, lit the cannon's fuse. The noon cannon is still fired at the Palais-Royal, though most of the ladies for sale have disappeared, those who inspired the Abbé Delille's lines;
- "Dans ce jardin on ne rencontre
- Ni champs, ni prés, ni bois, ni fleurs.
- Et si l'on y dérègle ses mœurs,
- Au moins on y règle sa montre."
("In this garden one encounters neither fields nor meadows nor woods nor flowers. And, if one upsets one's morality, at least one may re-set one's watch.")
The Marquis de Sade referred to the grounds in front of the palace in his Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795) as a place where progressive pamphlets were sold.
Upon the death of the Duke, the palace's ownership lapsed to the state, whence it was called Palais du Tribunat.<ref name=Segard/>
After the Restoration of the Bourbons, at the Palais-Royal the young Alexandre Dumas obtained employment in the office of the powerful duc d'Orléans, who regained control of the Palace during the Restoration. In the Revolution of 1848, the Paris mob trashed and looted the Palais-Royal. Under the Second Empire the Palais-Royal was home to the cadet branch of the Bonaparte family, represented by Prince Napoleon, Napoleon III's cousin.
Today it houses the Conseil d'État, the Constitutional Council, and the Ministry of Culture. At the rear of the garden are the older buildings of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the national library of deposit, with a collection of more than 6,000,000 books, documents, maps, and prints; most of the collections have been moved to more modern settings elsewhere.
The House of Orléans did not occupy the northeast wing, where Anne of Austria had originally lived, but instead chose to reside in the palais Brion to the west of the main block, where the future regent, before his father died, commissioned Gilles-Marie Oppenord to decorate the grand appartement in the light and lively style Régence that foreshadowed the Rococo. These, and the Regent's more intimate petits appartements, as well as a gallery painted with Virgilian subjects by Coypel, were all demolished in 1784, for the installation of the Théâtre-Français, now the Comédie-Française.
The palais Brion, a separate pavilion standing along rue Richelieu, to the west of the Palais-Royal, had been purchased by Louis XIV from the heirs of Cardinal Richelieu. Louis had it connected to the Palais-Royal. It was at the palais Brion that Louis had his mistress Louise de La Vallière stay while his affair with Madame de Montespan was still an official secret.
Later on, the royal collection of antiquities was installed at the palais Brion, under the care of the art critic and official court historian André Félibien, who had been appointed in 1673.
- Hôtel de Rambouillet
- The Louvre
- Palais de Tuileries
- Theatre du Palais-Royal
- Satellite image from Google Maps
- Palais Royal – Louvre district - current photographs and of the years 1900
- Virtual Paris - Photos of Palais-Royal and VR views
- Panoramic View of Palais Royal @ Places of Interest