A Short History of the Palais-Royal
1628: Cardinal Richelieu built himself a palace with gardens, galleries and a theatre.
1642 Richelieu died, having bequeathed his palace to King Louis XIII.
1643: One year after his minister Richelieu’s death, Louis XIII died. His wife, Anne of Austria, became regent of the realm. She left the inhospitable Louvre to take up residence in the Palais-Cardinal, which then became known as Palais-Royal, so that her son, the future king Louis XIV, and his brother could play in the gardens. The Palais-Royal remained the property of the House of Orléans until the 19th century.
1680 : Founded by royal decree, the Comédie-Française, or Théâtre-Français, resulted from the merger of two theatrical companies, the troupe of the Hôtel de Bourgogne and the previously merged Molière and Théâtre du Marais troupes. A veritable cultural institution, it has been permanently housed since 1799 in the Salle Richelieu. Although Molière died seven years before the Comédie-Française was founded, it is known to this day as “the house of Molière”.
1692: Louis XIV gave the Palais-Royal to his brother Philippe, the Duke of Orléans.
1715-1723 : As Regent of France, Philippe d’Orléans took up residence in the Palais-Royal, which became the setting for lavish celebrations and intimate suppers.
1752 : Louis-Philippe d’Orléans, known as le Gros (the Fat), inherited the Palais-Royal upon the death of his father Louis the Pious. The Palais-Royal gradually began to take on its present-day appearance.
1781 : Heavily in debt, Louis-Philippe-Joseph, Duke of Orléans, decided to erect buildings and arcades around the gardens to finance the enlargement of his palace. The gardens became a meeting place for intellectuals and a breeding ground for the clubs, societies, gambling dens and cafés in which the Revolution was plotted.
1792 : Louis-Philippe-Joseph d’Orléans took the name “Philippe Égalité” and renamed the gardens of the Palais-Royal “the revolutionary garden”.
1784 : Jean Véfour, formerly Philippe Egalité’s head chef, founded the Grand Véfour. Throughout the 20th century, this fine dining restaurant would attract Paris’s political, artistic and literary elite (notably Jean Cocteau, Sacha Guitry, Jean Giraudoux, Colette, Louis Aragon, André Malraux, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir).
1814 : Louis-Philippe d’Orléans, the son of Philippe Egalité, took possession of the palace. It was from the Palais-Royal that he greeted the crowds when he was crowned king of the French in 1830. When he abdicated following the revolutionary uprising of 1848, angry mobs pillaged and set fire to the palace. It was subsequently declared state property and renamed Palais-National.
1871 : After the burning of public buildings by the Communards on 23 May, republican institutions were installed in the Palais-Royal and the arcades were gradually emptied of the surviving attractions.
7 August 1954 Colette, the “lady of the Palais-Royal”, died and became the first woman in France to be honoured with a state funeral. Her coffin was placed in the great courtyard of the Palais-Royal. Six thousand Parisian mourners filed past it to pay their respects.
1959 : The Palais-Royal became the seat of France’s constitutional council and, in the Valois wing, of the new culture ministry. André Malraux would be culture minister for more than a decade.
1986: A permanent installation of contemporary art was set up in the great courtyard of the Palais-Royal. Daniel Buren’s famous columns – 260 black and white pillars of varying heights – sparked a controversy when they were first opened to the public.
2000 : A century after Hector Guimard’s art nouveau metro entrances, the “Palais-Royal/Musée du Louvre” metro station in Place Colette was transformed by the conceptual artist Jean-Michel Othoniel into the “Kiosque des Noctambules”, an installation made out of aluminium and Murano glass.
The photo caption provides the addresses of the places photographed for this book in case you’d like to set out from 4, Rue de Valois and discover them for yourself. It is a partial list of the many shops, designer stores, antique dealers, restaurants and cafés in the area that you can explore during your stay. Our concierge will be happy to offer suggestions based on your interests and desires.