Palais Royal - Paris
The Golden Rectangle is the new trendy area in the centre of Parisby Hervé Dewintre
Nothing can be compared to the splendid way in which the Palais Royal, Paris, with its triple arcades and marvellous garden, bears witness to the past. With both a joyous and tumultuous past, today the Palais Royal has re-established itself as the temple of fashion and good taste. LUXOS invites you to go for a walk and discover this treasure trove of pleasures, where history is just as rich as its abundance of modern creations.
Cardinal Richelieu wanted a palace. In 1629 he put his architect, Jacques Lemercier, in charge of building a royal dwelling near Rue Saint Honoré. When considering the early days of the palace’s existence, it is crucial to mention the following moments in history: the foundation of the Académie Française in 1635, when the writer Molière would take centre stage for years to come; Richelieu’s will which bequeathed the palace to the King Louis XIII; Anne of Austria showing an angry mob her sleeping son (the young Louis XIV); the regent Philippe of Orléans who wanted his ancestral home to exude pleasure, luxury and excess – a freedom from morals which left its mark inside the palace.
A place of pleasures and delights
In 1780, Louis-Philippe-Joseph, son of the Duke of Orléans, sealed off the garden by surrounding it with buildings, which today form the three sides of its wall. Thus, three new streets were created and named after his three sons: de Valois, de Beaujolais and de Montpensier. He built the auditorium (today home to the Comédie Française as well as a number of boutiques) with the intention of renting them out to tradesmen, although this was not without heavy criticism from the court. The public fell upon this magnificent promenade with glee.
Under the Consulate, the Palais-Royal became the centre of ‘civilized Europe,’ thanks to its glorious boutiques, its lively galleries and people, its restaurant owners masquerading as the best chefs in Europe and its cafés, which spread an unknown luxury throughout the area.
Thanks to modern design during the dawn of the 20th century, steel spheres decorated the Pol Bury fountains and the Deux Plateaux by Daniel Buren were installed in the court of honour. The 60 buildings which run alongside the garden have housed many historical figures and major artists including Colette. In fact, the square outside the building bears the author’s name. This location is so dear to the fashion industry, thanks particularly to Jérôme L’Huillier who staged his collections there. Marc Jacobs opened his Parisian boutique and was followed swiftly by Acne, Stella McCartney, Rick Owens and the avant-garde of modern fashion, Martin Margiela. The area soon gained a nickname, which sent a ripple through other spots of Parisian luxury: ‘the golden rectangle.’
LUXOS must-see recommendations:
•24 Galerie Montpensier: Didier Ludot, for the perfect little black dress
The Didier Ludot boutique is not only a designer brand secondhand shop, but also a place to exchange luxury, haute couture and vintage clothes. We also recommend you visit 125 galerie de Valois, the boutique dedicated entirely to Ludot’s own label: The Little Black Dress.
•128/129 Galerie de Valois: Les Gants du Palais, stylish gloves for every taste
The last word in leather goods and glove-making. The inimitable savoir-faire of the Millau artisans create double silk gloves, tailor-made crocodile skin gloves and a fabulous men’s collection.
•27, 28 Galerie de Montpensier: Epice, a beautiful shawl as a souvenir from Paris
Hand-made fabrics and patterns created by Indian craftsmen. With unique shades of colour, arty graphic designs, Epice’s shawls are worn by some of the world’s most elegant women.
•Passage des Deux-Pavillons, 5 rue des Petits-Champs: Maison Bonnet, made-to-measure glasses
The term ‘high eyewear’ could have been invented for this upmarket boutique whose sunglasses, fashioned from tortoiseshell, horn or acetate, are considered amongst the most prestigious in the world. By appointment only.
•139 Galerie de Valois: Jérôme L’Huillier, the best cocktail dress
He was the first designer to hold his fashion shows in the galleries of the Palais Royal. Since 1995, this vision of incredibly light and casual elegance is one of the Palace’s many undeniable delights.
•23 Rue de Montpensier: On Aura Tout Vu, accessible haute couture clothes
Lady Gaga is crazy about this Haute Couture house’s dresses and accessories. The showroom has been graced by some seriously tenacious private buyers.
Champs-Élysées in Paris
The Louvre by night