Originally called the Palais-Cardinal, the Palais-Royal is located near the Louvre, standing just opposite the north wing. It is in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Despite its name, it was never the residence of any king from the French Royal Family.

Early History

The palace was the residence of Cardinal Richelieu, thus its original name Palais Cardinal. The structure was designed by Jacques Lemercier and construction commenced in 1624. The Cardinal commissioned Philippe de Champaigne for decorative work and painting. After the Cardinal had passed, the palace became the property of the king, and its name was changed to Palais-Royal. Shortly after that, Louis XIII passed away and the palace became the home of the Queen Mother Anne of Austria. She lived in the palace with her sons as well as her advisor Cardinal Mazarin. Not long after, the palace became the residence of Henrietta Maria and her daughter Henrietta Anne Stuart, who had escaped from the English civil war.

House of Orleans

Henrietta Anne later married Phillipe de France, duc d’Orléans, who was Louis’ younger brother. The ceremony took place in the chapel within the palace. Henrietta later gave birth to a baby girl also within the palace. The building was later called House of Orléans. The Duchess was the one responsible for creating the beautiful and ornamental garden of the palace. This was said to be the most beautiful garden in Paris during the time. Henrietta died in 1670 and her widower soon remarried. He was wed to Princess Palatine, who gave birth to Philippe Charles d’Orléans. However, at this time, they lived in Château de Saint-Cloud.

La Régence

After the death of Louis XIV, he was succeeded by his great-grandson. This made The Duke of Orléans the Regent of the very young Louis XV, who was only five years old at the time. The government was set up in the palace while the young King lived nearby in Tuileries Palace. During this time, the Palais-Royal held about 500 paintings from the Orléans art collection and was open for public viewing for some time. The paintings were then sold abroad in the 18th Century.

Louis Philippe II

The palace was controlled by Louis Philippe II from 1780 until his death. He renovated the entire palace, this project took place between 1781 and 1784. The complex buildings as well as the gardens were all redesigned under the commission of Louis Philippe II. The garden was surrounded by an mall of shops, cafes, salons, refreshment stands and bookstores. This redesign made the palace one of the most important marketplaces of its time.

Today’s Palais-Royal

The palace today is now the home of Conseil d’État, the Ministry of Culture and Constitutional Council of France. The national library, known as the Bibliothèque nationale de France, is found in the older building located in the back of the palace garden. This houses a collection of 14 million books and other publications.

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