All of the excitement of the Louvre and rue de Rivoli! Seeing the glinting gold statues of the Palais Garnier in the distance from the busy intersection of avenue de l’Opera and rue Saint Honore can be overwhelming. So much beauty. So many people going to and fro. Cars whizzing by, performers performing…. But, just a few paces away, you can duck into one of the most serene places in Paris – the Palais Royal gardens which are surrounded by solemn arcades and stoic buildings.
Cross the Place Collette with its Metro entrance decorated with open work domes made of multi-colored balls – the Comedie Francaise theater will be in front and a cafe or two will be on the right. Go through the arches and enter a paved courtyard with a controversial (what’s new in Paris?) sculpture by Daniel Buren. It was installed in 1986 and is known as ‘les colonnes de Buren.’ This collection of black and white striped octagonal columns of different heights beg for children of all ages to sit on them, to jump over them and to generally enjoy them before crossing an arcade into the gardens.
18th Century Revisited at Palais Royal Gardens
Once inside the magnificent courtyard, admire the buildings around the garden that are the epitome of 18th century style and begin a stroll through the gardens themselves which exemplify subdued elegance. However, this was not always the case. In the 19th century, ladies of the night waited in the arcades to entice those looking for love – or at least a bit of fun, while gambling casinos lured those hoping to beat the house.
Today, the arcades house a few shops and a famous restaurant, Le Grand Véfour. It is the first grand restaurant in Paris which opened in 1784. Symmetrical rows of lime trees soothe and beckon visitors to linger and enjoy the shade. In the spring and summer, the middle gardens come alive with lush, nodding rose blossoms, the water fountain sings in the background, pigeons fly and coo, people dot the benches and a quiet calm prevails. In winter the gardens are no less enticing. The leafless trees and the staid surroundings inspire introspection, reflection and allow those who visit a moment to collect their thoughts.
What do you think of the Palais Royal Gardens? One of your favorite spaces?
Palais Royal Gardens
What makes it special: Quiet space near many monuments and places of interest. Great place to enjoy a snack or baguette lunch. Enchanting garden.
Nearest Métro: Palais Royal Musée du Louvre (Lines 1 and 7) or Pyramides (Line 14)
Suggested time to visit: During daylight hours
Official website: http://www.domaine-palais-royal.fr/en/