A Guide to Palais-Royal (Things To See, History & More)

The Colonnes de Buren at Palais-Royal

Palais-Royal is a landmark in the 1st arrondissement, near the Louvre, that can be great to visit when you are in Paris.

This former royal palace is a very interesting place to visit when you want to see architecture and learn about history. The courtyard, where you can find a lot of beautiful nature, is perfect if you want to sit down and relax, or if you want to go for a stroll. There are also theaters, restaurants, cafes, and stores.

With this guide to Palais-Royal, you can learn about the landmark’s history and get more information about what you can see and do at the palace. I’ll also give information about places that are near it.

History of Palais-Royal

View of Palais-Royal

Palais-Royal is a former French royal palace. The palace dates back to the start of the 17th century when it was built for Cardinal Richelieu. At that time, the palace was known as Palais-Cardinal. The building was the personal residence of the Cardinal and it remained his personal residence until his death.

Later, it was used by Louis XIII, Louis XIV, and Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, as well as other people.

The building was also the residence of the wife and daughter of King Charles I of England who escaped from England during the English Civil War.

Green benches at Palais-Royal
Benches at Palais-Royal

Throughout the years, lots of changes were made to the design of the building, which means that the current Palais-Royal looks very different from the Palais-Cardinal.

At the end of the 18th century, some parts of Palais-Royal became shopping arcades, and the palace became a popular place for the public. The arcades that surrounded the public gardens featured boutiques, bookstores, museums, cafes, and other venues.

Nowadays, the Palais-Royal is the seat of the Ministry of Culture and various other official offices. In addition to that, you can still find many stores, cafes, and other venues at the building, and the garden is a public park.

The Colonnes de Buren

The Colonnes de Buren
Columns at Palais-Royal

Palais-Royal consists of two main parts, the garden and the Colonnes de Buren.

The Colonnes de Buren, or Les Deux Plateaux, is a modern art installation that was created in 1986 by the artist Daniel Buren.

The location of the art installation is the Cour d’Honneur.

The art installation Colonnes de Buren consists of 260 black-and-white striped columns that all vary in height. The columns form a grid.

Some of the columns are surrounded by water

The contrast between the modern columns and the historic architecture of Palais-Royal makes the art installation interesting to see.

Moreover, the columns are a very popular photo spot in Paris. People take photos while standing next to the columns, sitting on top of them, or standing on the columns.

Jardin du Palais Royal

Bench and trees
Bench at Jardin du Palais Royal

The Jardin du Palais Royal is the large garden of the Palais-Royal.

The beautiful building of Palais-Royal surrounds the garden on all sides, and to the south of the garden, you can find the Colonnes de Buren.

The garden is a great place to go for a relaxing walk all year round. The garden has many trees that look beautiful whichever season you plan to visit Palais-Royal. For example, during the fall, you can see a large number of leaves on the ground.

View of Jardin du Palais Royal
Jardin du Palais Royal

At many spots throughout the garden, there are benches. These benches are situated underneath the trees, thus they are in the shadow in summer.

Some of the benches have famous quotes on them.

In addition to that, there is a large fountain with green chairs that make for another place in the garden where you can relax.

Besides that, there are statues and flowers.

While relaxing in the garden, the beautiful nature and historic architecture are both wonderful to see.

Surrounding the garden, you can find the arcades of the Palais-Royal that are separated from the garden by beautiful black-and-gold fences and gates.

Underneath the arcades, there are many stores, cafes, restaurants, and other venues.

Some Places at Palais-Royal

I’ll highlight some of the places that you can find at the Palais-Royal. Besides these, there are many other venues that are worth checking out when you are visiting Palais-Royal.

Théâtre du Palais-Royal

Location: 38 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris

Outside of Théâtre du Palais-Royal
Théâtre du Palais-Royal

Théâtre du Palais-Royal is one of the two theaters that you can find at Palais-Royal. You can find this theater to the northwest of the garden of Palais-Royal. The entrance is located at 38 Rue de Montpensier.

The Théâtre du Palais-Royal is a 750-seat theater that dates back to the end of the 18th century when it had a different name.

When the theater opened in 1784, it was a puppet theater that was in use to entertain the children of the Duke of Orléans. From 1790, the theater was also used for plays and operas.

Throughout the years, the theater was used for all kinds of entertainment, including comedies and operettas.

Nowadays, you can still see a large variety of performances at the theater.

In addition to the quality of the shows, the beauty of the interior of the theater makes going here a great idea! The auditorium of the Théâtre du Palais-Royal features many beautiful decorations.

Café Kitsuné Palais Royal

Location: 51 Gal de Montpensier, 75001 Paris

Café Kitsuné
Café Kitsuné Palais Royal

Café Kitsuné Palais Royal is one of the branches of the popular coffee shop Café Kitsuné. You can find this cafe underneath the arcades of Palais-Royal.

Café Kitsuné Palais Royal is a very small coffee shop where you can get all kinds of delicious coffee drinks.

There’s little room inside, but the cafe has an outdoor terrace where you can sit down and enjoy your drink. Besides that, you can also get a drink and then sit down at one of the benches of the garden of Palais-Royal.

The cafe is known for its delicious matcha latte, and I recommend getting that drink! You can choose from different types of milk for this drink, including plant-based milk.

Salle Richelieu

Location: 1 Place Colette, 75001 Paris

Exterior of Salle Richelieu
Salle Richelieu

Salle Richelieu is the other theater that you can find at Palais-Royal.

This theater is the main theater of Comédie-Française, which is a state theater company that is one of the oldest theater companies in the world that is still active. Comédie-Française dates back to the end of the 17th century.

You can find Salle Richelieu on Place Colette next to the south entrance of Palais-Royal.

Lots of different shows take place at the theater, including contemporary plays and classic works.

On some days of the week, you can do a guided tour of Salle Richelieu. During such a tour, you can learn about the history of the theater, see the old building from the inside, and see the collection of art that is located at the theater.

Nearby Places to Explore

Palais-Royal is located in the 1st arrondissement, and you can find many interesting places near it.

Louvre Museum

People at the Louvre Museum
Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum, housed in the historic Louvre Palace, is one of the best and most popular museums in the world.

The museum has a large collection that includes more than 600,000 items. The objects are from many periods in time and from all around the world, and there are many different mediums of art on display.

The collection is divided into several different departments, such as Egyptian antiquities, sculptures, and paintings.

The most famous work of the museum is the Mona Lisa, and you can find many other famous and significant works at the museum.

Galerie Vivienne

Location: 4 Rue des Petits Champs, 75002 Paris

Inside of Galerie Vivienne
Galerie Vivienne

To the north of Palais-Royal, you can find Galerie Vivienne. This is one of Paris’s most beautiful covered passages.

You can enter the passage for free and shop at the shops that you can find there.

The gallery has a beautifully decorated interior and was opened to the public in the year 1826. The passage has a beautiful glass roof, a mosaic floor, and many other beautiful features.

Shopping at the covered passage is also one of the best things to do in Paris when it rains.

When you go here, you could also go to Bistro Vivienne. This is a French restaurant that is located next to the entrance of Galerie Vivienne where you can enjoy delicious classic French food.

Rue Saint-Honoré

Cars on Rue Saint-Honoré
Rue Saint-Honoré

Rue Saint-Honoré is a shopping street that you can find directly to the south of Palais-Royal. This is one of the most famous streets in Paris and it is also one of the oldest streets, as it dates back to the 13th century.

There are many luxury stores on the street, such as Burberry, as well as independent luxury boutiques.

In addition to stores, there are many cafes and restaurants on this street.

Rue de Rivoli

Shops on Rue de Rivoli
Rue de Rivoli

Rue de Rivoli is another great shopping street in Paris that you can find close to Palais-Royal. This street is located to the south of Rue Saint-Honoré and to the south of Palais-Royal, and it runs parallel to Rue Saint-Honoré.

You can find lots of well-known retailers on the street, such as Zara and Urban Outfitters.

On the street, you can also find the department store La Samaritaine.

A part of the street, the part that runs along the Tuileries Garden, includes many cafes, pastry shops, and other types of shops.

More Paris Travel Guides

Famous streets in Paris

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Thanks for reading my guide to Palais-Royal. Have fun exploring the landmark!