Lonely Planet review
This elegant urban space, 21 hectares large, is fronted by the neoclassical Palais Royal (Royal Palace; closed to the public), constructed in 1624 by Cardinal Richelieu but mostly dating to the late 18th century. Louis XIV hung out here the 1640s and today it is the governmental Conseil d’État (State Council).
Jardin du Palais Royal is a perfect spot to sit, contemplate, picnic between boxed hedges and shop in the trio of arcades that frame the garden so beautifully: Galerie de Valois (east), where Charlotte Corday, Jean-Paul Marat’s assassin, once worked in a shop, is the most upmarket with designer boutiques like Stella McCartney, Pierre Hardy and Didier Ludot and coat-of-arms engraver Guillaumot, at work at Nos 151 to 154 since 1785. Across the garden, in Galerie de Montpensier (west), the Revolution broke out on a warm mid-July day just three years after the galleries opened in the Café du Foy. The third arcade, tiny Galerie Beaujolais , is crossed by Passage du Perron , a passageway above which writer Colette (1873–1954) lived out the last dozen years of her life.
The far southern end of the square is polka-dotted with the controversial black-and-white striped columns of various heights by sculptor Daniel Buren . It was started in 1986, interrupted by irate Parisians and finished – following the intervention of the Ministry of Culture and Communication – in 1995. The story (invented by Buren?) goes that if you toss a coin and it lands on one of the columns, your wish will come true.
In between the two rises a somewhat imposing wooden building, a temporary construction put up to house part of the neighbouring national theatre (France’s oldest), the Comédie Française , while its main colonnaded building dating to 1860 is renovated.