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Palais Royal
Paris, France

2006 photos

2012 photos - Palais Royal, Court of Honor, and Garden

2012 photos - Added Housing

The Palais-Royal ... 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 galleries ladies of the night lingered, and gambling casinos were lodged in second-floor quarters.

A theater 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)

Photos and their arrangement © 2006 Chuck LaChiusa
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