When I think of Palais Royal I think of powdery smells, beautiful people, velvety flowers and a few afternoons with important (hm, and less important) people spent there. I feel warm and enchanted and I feel like I wanna sit in one of those uselessly expensive cafes and just watch the beige facade in front of me.
But that might not be enough for you. So here's the story, a tiny guide with a pastel-neon map that might help you get around and get amused.
Metro stop Palais Royal - Musee du Louvre is the best place to start the whole adventure. The whole area has a very traditional environment with people dressed up in suits, older gentlemen drinking dark, dark coffee with their tiny, slipper sized dogs and Asian tourist wandering around with their facial masks.
The most interesting metro station of all Paris stands there. It stands lonely on place de la Collette against all traditions, against 19th century structure in front of it, against the Louvre behind it. It is made from glass beads and aluminium and it is there since 2000 - the year when Paris celebrated the first centennial of its metro system. Kiosque des noctambules (Kiosk of the night-walkers) is the name of it.
Comédie-Française's red neon sign - one more postmodern addition to this classicistic square - is inviting you to one of the oldest theaters in the world. In France, it's the only state theatre that has its own troupe of actors. If you walk in the direction of the sign, black and white pillars of different height will confuse you. Hop on one! Postmodern artist Daniel Buren, installed 252 striped columns onto the square and raised a few brows at the time. Pillars are made from marble and concrete and underneath the metal grill you are standing on, water is swirling. If you are standing on the pillar, now you have your soapbox, you can stand there and be a monument for a second. Freeze your smile and take a photo! I mean, that is what everybody else does.
Palais Royal invites you in with its elegance of classicistic architecture. It was built by the famous Cardinal Richelieu (the one from the Hunchback of Notre Dame). Dignity and grandeur of the whole complex make it hard to imagine that it was a madhouse during the French revolution.
Not exactly in December, but if you are on the square in June, you’ll smell roses in the park and elegant linden flowers. You will see a beautiful garden and no matter how cold or hot it is, please sit for a second on a bench and imagine all the turmoil of the history and compare it with the peace of the very moment you're in.
The medal shop is the only still existing shop from the 18th century. You can’t miss it. You can look through the window of the shop, smile to a gentleman inside of it and then stop again few shops away, in the neon comfort of Stella McCartney’s empire. Consumerism will offer a shelter from all the history you've been deconstructing here. It usually does.
What is your favorite place in Paris? What do you think about Palais Royal? Was this helpful?
Have a great weekend! And stay warm!