Palais Royal

Paris, France

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

The gardens, located in the heart of Paris, are a jewel of diverse public activity with shopping, cafes and people watching.

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History & Background

The Palais-Royal has a rich and complex history. Built for the Duc du Richelieu in 1624 by the architect Jaques Lemercier, the Palais was bequeathed upon his death to the French monarchy. Louis the XIV spent his childhood here. 1692 Louis XVI gave the building to the Duke of Orleans who possessed it until 1848.

Due to a crippling amount of debt, by the late 18th century Louis-Philippe of Orleans rented out a number of shops and cafes in the arcade surrounding the palace to gain extra income. The privately controlled commercial district, off limits to Paris police, soon became notorious for gambling halls, debauchery and prostitution not to mention legitimate revolutionary activity. By the 1780s the palace was nick named equality palace, and LaFayette and Talleyrand were regulars at the Cafe Valois. The Palais Royal became public property after its owner was beheaded in 1793.

Napoleon took residence in the Palais in 1801, and returned it to Orleans. It remained in Orlean possession until the Paris Commune burned it in 1871, after which it is restored and fitted for the residence of the Council of State.

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