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best things to do le palais royal paris guide

Although the Palais Royal isn’t open to the public, this palace in the middle of the city is a favourite hangout spot for many Parisians. The courtyard and the gardens are imposing and the history if this urban palace is at least impressive.

Although not very well-known by tourists, I would recommend visiting the courtyard and the gardens of Le Palais Royal. Here is a small guide to Le Palais Royal.

History of Le Palais Royal

The Palais Royal (royal palace) was built in 1629 by order of the influential Cardinal Richelieu who was minister between 1624 and 1642. The palace surrounds a courtyard – the cour d’honneur – and garden, the jardin du Palais Royal.

At the time, the palace was known as the Palais Cardinal; it became a royal palace when the cardinal left the building to King Louis XIII. The Sun King – Louis XIV – spent his childhood here before moving to the nearby Louvre.

Between 1871 and 1874, Louis-Philippe d’Orléans, the cousin of King Louis XVI, expanded the palace by adding galleries and shops to earn additional income. For a while there were even cafés and gambling tents in the palace.

The palace was damaged during the 1848 revolution and it was almost destroyed by a fire in 1871. The basic structure of the building fortunately remained intact and the building was completely restored in 1876, after which it fell into the hands of the government.

Today it is used by the Council of State and some French ministries.

best things to do le palais royal paris guide

Cour d’Honneur of Palais Royal

The palace itself is not open to the public, but you can visit the courtyard and garden. The square, known as the Cour d’Honneur, is dominated by a large work of art by Daniel Buren. The artwork, which was installed here in 1986, consists of 280 black and white striped columns.

Jardin du Palais Royal

Next to the courtyard is the Jardin du Palais Royal, the inner garden of the palais. The garden has a formal layout with a large basin with fountain in the center. The park is a very quiet place because it is completely surrounded by the palace, even though it is in the heart of Paris.

The current garden is slightly smaller than the one originally designed for Cardinal Richelieu in 1630 because of the 60 buildings with galleries that were planted along three sides of the park in 1874. Nowadays there are restaurants, shops and galleries in the buildings around the garden.

In the middle of the garden you will find a large fountain (Pol Bury fountain) with all green chairs around it, just like in the Jardin des Tuileries near the Louvre. These seats are for public use. If the weather is nice you might have a tough time finding a free seat!

Other Paris attractions close to Le Palais Royale

  • Place Colette
  • Carrousel Arc de Triomphe
  • Musée de l’Orangerie
  • Jardin de Tuileries
  • Louvre Museum
  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Quais de la Seine
  • Statue Of the Second Republic
  • Paris Mint
  • Place Dauphine
  • Conciergerie
  • Saint-Jacques Tower
  • The Centre Pompidou
  • Stravinsky Fountain
  • Pont Neuf
  • Crémerie de Paris
  • The Herbe Museum
  • Les Caves du Louvre
  • Église Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles de Paris
  • Tour Jean-sans-Peur
  • Basilica of Notre-Dame des Victoires
  • Grévin Museum
  • Colonne Vendôme
  • Palais Garnier
everything you need to know about le palais royal paris


  • Ilona

    March 30, 2020

    I always wondered what that building was!


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