Literally, “Gardens of the Royal Palace”, this hidden-away parallel haven offers an enchanting place to lull the day away, and a very interesting history. What was once the most popular gathering place in Paris is today a quiet, breathtakingly and beautiful garden.
The Palais-Royal used to be what Cardinal Richelieu – Louis XIII’s counselor – called home. After dying, he left the estate to the crown. In 1784, Philippe-Egalitiè, whose family had been given the Palais by King Louis XIV, opened the Jardins du Palais-Royal to the public and had boutiques, restaurants and two theaters placed around it. He also prohibited access to the police, thus instantly transforming the green space into a place of total freedom, and a hotspot for artists and intellectuals.
After Egalitiè’s death in 1793, the Palace and Gardens were turned over to the State, becoming national domain. After a tumultuous history including break-ins, fires and housing different public entities, the Palais Royal was finally returned to stability and its gardens revamped and opened to the public.
Found within the Palace, the gardens are not visible from the outside, which makes them all the more charming. The Jardins hold numerous fountains, modern and classic, art galleries, cafés, boutiques, statues and long double-rows of lime trees on either side of the garden that provide a shadowy retreat from the hot weather sun.
The minimalist Court of Honor featuring dozens of striped black and white columns by controversial designer David Buren is definitely a must-see at the Jardins du Palais-Royal. Take a coin, make a wish and toss it onto the columns. If the coin lands on top of a column, your wish might just come true.
The Jardins du Palais-Royal hold regular sculpture exhibits, which are definitely something to see. The noon-cannon has been sounding every day since 1990, and it is one of the few Parisian parks where dogs are not allowed (so don’t worry about what you might be stepping on).
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