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.
The palace was the home of French royalty for many years. Cardinal Richelieu wanted a palace and so in 1629 he put his architect, Jacques Lemercier, in charge of building a royal dwelling near Rue Saint Honoré. After the Cardinal's death his will bequeathed the palace to the King Louis XIII. Over the years the residence bore witness to some of the royal family's most extravagant behaviour, and the grand architecture and gardens remain from this period.
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 and the square outside the building bears the author’s name.
This location is popular with 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.’
WHERE TO SHOP
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.
Jardin du Palais Royal, 24 Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, www.didierludot.fr
Les Gants du Palais
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.
Jardins du Palais Royal, 128-129 Galerie de Valois, 75001, Paris, www.maisonfabre.com
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.
28 Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, www.epice.com
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.
Passage des Deux-Pavillons, 5 rue des Petits-Champs, Paris, www.maisonbonnet.com
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.
139 Galerie de Valois, Paris, www.jeromelhuillier.com
On Aura Tout Vu
Lady Gaga is crazy about this Haute Couture house’s dresses and accessories. The showroom has been graced by some seriously tenacious private buyers.
23 Rue de Montpensier, Paris, 75001, www.onauratoutvu.tv