Palais Royal Paris is a historic palace, also known as Palais-Cardinal, assigned to be built by the famous Cardinal Richelieu from 1622-1629.
The historic Palais Cardinal is very centrally located in Paris, being opposite to the northern wing of Louvre (the two are divided by Place du Palais-Royal).
Originally, Palais Cardinal was built as an official residence for Cardinal Richelieu, who had commissioned architect Jacques Lemercier to design the palace.
Construction work commenced in 1622, and the palace was completed in1629. When Richelieu later died, in 1642, the palace became crown’s possession.
PHOTO: Palais Royal – Conseil d’Etat section, as seen from Place du Palais-Royal. From the square, you can find the entrance to Paris metro lines M1 and M7 station “Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre”.
The palace became a royal residence after the death of King Louis XIII, as Queen mother Anne and her two young children, (future) King Louis XIV and Phillip, Duke of Anjou, moved into the building.
In 1649, the building also became a residence for the Queen of England,Henrietta-Maria.
Queen Henrietta-Maria came to live in the palace from the invitation of King Louis XIV, fleeing a civil war in England with her youngest daughter, Princess Henrietta-Anne.
Later, in 1661, Henrietta Maria married Louis XIV’s brother Phillip, in a ceremony that took place at the palace chapel.
With their marriage, Palais Royal became the official administrative palace for the Dukes of Orléans.
Maria Henrietta’s daughter, Duchess of Orléans, added the palace gardens, which, when completed, were said to have been the most beautiful in Paris.
With these developments, Palais Royal became a center for French social life, where Parisian high society — the “crème de la crème” — met.
Regular guests at the palace included (up to the death of Duchess of Orléans in 1670)…
- members of the royal family (including Queen mother Anne),
- Duchess of Montpensier, as well as
- the Princess of Condé.
When King Louis XIV died in 1715, his five-year-old grand-grand-son was crowned the new King of France, with the Duke of Orléans becoming theregent ruler of France…
…with a court out of the Palais-Royal, while the young King lived in the nearby Tuileries palace.
Another major event in the role of Palais-Royal was during Louis Phillip II, Duke of Orléans, from 1781-1784, when he had the palace and its gardens rebuilt and expanded.
When that reconstruction was completed, in 1784, Palais-Royal reopened its doors as a center for entertainment and shopping…
…containing a total of 145 shops and services, including:
- fashion boutiques,
- cafes (including the famous Café de Foy and Café Lamblin),
- beauty salons,
- bookshops, and
Palais Royal was opened to all levels of society, making it, again, one of the most important centers of social life in Paris, with its cafes enjoying especially high levels of popularity among the people.
At that time in history, the palace also housed the main public theater in Paris, from 1799 known as Comédie-Française, today also known as Théâtre-Français.
There was, however, a theater even earlier in the building, as established by Cardinal Richelieu in 1641.
During the early French Revolution years 1789-1793, Duke of Orléans,Louis Philippe d’Orléans, became known as “Philippe Égalité“, due to his popularity among the revolting people…
…and in turn, he renamed Palais Royal Paris to “Palais de l’Égalité“. The palace’s cafes had become, in fact, places, where revolutionary ideas and revolutionary acts were publicly discussed.
When Duke of Orléans died (at the guillotine) in 1793, the building was nationalized, and operated as Palais du Tribunat — until 1807.
Palais Royal was, once again, returned to the Dukes of Orléans in 1814 and remained in private hands until 1848.
Palais Royal Paris
Address: 1, place du Palais-Royal, 75100 Paris
Official website: Conseil-etat.fr/palais-royal
…aided by the fact that the building had several of the most popular restaurants in Paris at the time, including “Le Grand Vefour” — open to this day (www.grand-vefour.com).
Today, Palais Royal Paris is headquarters for Conseil d’État (www.conseil-etat.fr), an advisory to the President of France on legal matters, plus, the building contains officies for the Ministry of Culture.