Palais Royal - Table of Contents  ......................  Architecture Around the World

2006 photos - Palais Royal
Paris, France

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.

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. Upon Richelieu's death in 1642 the palace became the property of the King [Louis XIII] and acquired the new name Palais-Royal.

After Louis XIII 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, along with her advisor Cardinal Mazarin.

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.

In 1785, Louis Philippe II d'Orléans succeeded his father as the head of the House of Orléans. He was born at Saint-Cloud and later moved to the Palais-Royal and lived there with his wife...

Louis Philippe II, who controlled the Palais-Royal from 1780 onward, expanded and redesigned the complex of buildings and the gardens of the palace between 1781 and 1784. In 1784, the gardens and surrounding structures of the Palais-Royal opened to the public as a shopping and entertainment complex.

Though the corps de logis remained the private Orléans seat, the arcades surrounding its public gardens had 145 boutiques, cafés, salons, hair salons, bookshops, museums, and countless refreshment kiosks. The redesigned palace complex became one of the most important marketplaces in Paris. It was frequented by the aristocracy, the middle classes, and the lower orders. It had a reputation as being a site of sophisticated conversation (revolving around the salons, cafés, and bookshops)], shameless debauchery (it was a favorite haunt of local prostitutes), as well as a hotbed of Freemasonic activity.

The Palais-Royal also contained one of the most important public theaters in Paris the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. It was rebuilt in 1786 at the behest of Louis Philippe II (who became the new Duc d'Orléans in 1785 upon the death of his father). In 1799, the theater became the home of the Comédie-Française or Théâtre-Français which it remains today.

- Wikipedia (Jan. 2012)
Louis Philip II, Duke of Orléans, who would become known as "Philippe-Egalité" during the more radical phase of the Revolution [1789–1799] , opened the gardens of the Palais-Royal to all Parisians and employed the neoclassical architect Victor Louis to rebuild the structures around the palace gardens. Previously these had simply been the backs of houses. He also enclosed the gardens with regular colonnades lined with nice shops. Along the galeries ladies of the night lingered, and gambling casinos were lodged in second-floor quarters.

A theatre could be found at each end of the galleries; the larger one has been the seat of the Comédie-Française, the state theatre company, since Napoleon's reign. 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.

Controversy erupted here in 1980 (as so often in France, over a point of style), when striped columns were added. The look was said to be in poor taste. However, since then many neighboring establishments have adopted the striped columns, creating a type of trademark look for the area.

- Source (Jan. 2012)

 Illustration, from an 1863 guide to Paris.
Source: Wikipedia (Jan. 2012)
2006 Photographs

Left pavilion: Baroque style .....  Right pavilion: Neoclassical style

The Court of Honor (south side) was modernized with striped black and white posts, short and tall, in the mid 1980s, though the State had tried to rescind the contract with the designer, David Buren, during its construction.

Baroque style: Scroll buttresses flank the windows ..... Engaged  balustrade

Neoclassical style:
Dentils ..... Ancones .....  Balustrade  .....  Bottom modillions supporting cornice; egg-and-dart

Neoclassical style  arcades
The Fountains of Pol Bury (silver round balls) are found here, in the Gallery d'Orléans which separates the courtyard from the garden. Since 1990, the traditional noon-cannon sounds every day.

Note rounded arch windows and the sculpture in between the arches (Next photo below)

Carved spandrel panels ..... Fanlight windows

Construction between 1781 and 1784, of 60 uniform houses bordering three sides of the square.

Urns and balustrade

Kenneth Snelson sculpture
City Court Building Buffalo, NY
Frequently, the Jardin du Palais Royal holds temporary outdoor sculpture exhibits.

The present garden is about a third smaller than the original one laid out by the royal; gardener for Cardinal Richelieu in the 1630s. This is due to the construction between 1781 and 1784, of 60 uniform houses bordering three sides of the square.

Photos and their arrangement © 2006 Chuck LaChiusa
| ...Home Page ...| ..Buffalo Architecture Index...| ..Buffalo History Index... .|....E-Mail ...| ..