I fell in love with Paris by walking around around and taking everything in. I think it’s the best way to see the city and discover which part of it speaks to you. There really is something for everyone in Paris. With the imminent arrival of spring, I’ve been thinking about Paris gardens and the return of leisurely walks. There’s something about walking through Palais-Royal and its garden that remains a personal perennial favorite.
You’ll find Palais-Royal and the garden, the Jardin du Palais-Royal, tucked just behind the Louvre. Of course people know about Palais-Royal, but there still always seems to be a majority of French people. I think because it isn’t completely visible from the street that it still feels like a “secret” that hasn’t gotten out yet.
Originally named Palais-Cardinal, Palais-Royal was Cardinal Richelieu’s personal residence. Upon Richelieu’s death, the palace became the property of King Louis XIII, hence the name change to Palais-Royal. Palais-Royal remained a royal until the French Revolution.
The Jardin du Palais-Royal has a unique history as well. Pierre Desgots originally designed the garden in 1633 for Cardinal Richelieu. Henrietta Anne Stuart, the Duchesse d’Orléans, had the vision to transform the space into a beautiful garden. Following her death, in 1674 famed landscape architect André Le Nôtre began restoring the gardens.
In 1992, there was a project to redevelop the gardens again. American landscape architect Mark Rudkin added the four central flower beds. He also included the benches to encourage people to come and enjoy the space. Today, the garden is recognized as one of five Jardins Remarquables (Remarkable Gardens) in Paris.
A Walk Through Palais-Royal
To start a visit to Palais-Royal, walk by Les Deux Plateaux, which is French artist Daniel Buren’s contemporary art installation. Black and white columns of various sizes form a grid on the inner courtyard (this installation is more commonly known as Les Colonnes de Buren). It’s a popular spot to take photos!
Next up, you’ll see Pol Bury’s Sphérades. The silver balls reflect their surroundings and are pretty any day, but especially so when it’s sunny.
As you continue walking through the Jardin du Palais-Royal, either go to the center of the gardens or around the perimeter. I usually do both, unless it’s raining.
The Jardin du Palais-Royal is beautiful during all four seasons – whether you’re enjoying the simple Christmas trees that line the perimeter during winter and the holidays, the first magnolia trees that bloom in spring, the bright green foliage in summer, or the changing and falling leaves in fall.
On a sunny day, pick up lunch and eat on one of the numerous benches or famous green chairs in the garden. Although be aware, if it’s really a beautiful day you’ll be fighting the Parisians for a seat!
Places To Visit in the Palais-Royal
The garden is worth a visit and a walk alone, but there’s also plenty of restaurants, pastry shops, coffee shops, and shopping along the perimeter of the garden.
Café Kitsuné is one of my favorite coffee shops in Paris. Their original outpost at Palais-Royal is tiny and charming. There’s a terrasse you can use to drink your coffee, but I often get mine to go and locate a bench or chair in the center of the park.
There’s great vintage shopping and shopping in general as well. For some of the best vintage finds in Paris check out Gabrielle Geppert and Dider Ludot. You’ll also find boutiques like Stella McCartney, Rick Owens, and cult-favorite skincare line Augustinus Bader.
If you’re in the mood for fine dining experiences with impeccable wine, head to Le Grand Vefour. The restaurant has hosted many top French politicians, artists, and literary geniuses over its storied 200-year history. The incredible 18th century “art décoratif” style décor is equally remarkable as the food and wine.
Spring 2021 in the Jardin du Palais-Royal
So, regardless if you’d like to spend a few hours or just pass through, a visit and walk through Palais-Royal and the beautiful garden is must-do in Paris! Contact me for help incorporating it into your perfect Paris itinerary.
Originally published March 4th, 2020 and updated in 2021.