Insiders’ Paris: Rambling Around the Palais Royal

Courtney Traub's introduction to an iconic (but under-appreciated) area

Add This

Helen Twigg

Courtney Traub
HomeAway travel expert

Insiders’ Paris: Rambling Around the Palais RoyalShort quiz: where in Paris can you admire the sun casting a warm glow on the opulent details of a 17th-century palace, browse quaint little boutiques, roam through elegant shopping arcades, and enjoy a glass of wine or gastronomic meal at a restaurant tucked away from the street? Just a block north of the Louvre Museum and its throngs of tourists lies an area that few visitors to Paris ever see: the Palais Royal and its quiet, arrestingly charming corners. Spend an afternoon exploring the area, and you’ll discover why locals prize it—and would prefer to keep it secret.

Getting There and Getting Around: The best way to reach the area is to take Metro Line 1 or 7 to the Palais-Royal-Musée du Louvre stop. As you exit the metro onto Place Colette (named after the French writer), admire the whimsical, brightly coloured sculpture reminiscent of transparent glass beads or candy that decorates the entrance, and designed by Jean-Michel Othoniel in 2000. I highly recommend that you take a map of central Paris with you to orient yourself on this itinerary, since it takes you through quiet, winding little streets and passageways; you may well feel disoriented without one.


Top things to see and do around the Palais Royal


Palais Royal and Gardens (8 rue de Montpensier, 1st) Palais Royal and Gardens (8 rue de Montpensier, 1st)

Completed in 1629 and originally called the Palais-Cardinal, this stunning palace was initially home to the Cardinal Richelieu. Following the Cardinal’s death it was taken over by King Louis XIII and renamed the Palais-Royal. In the late 18th century it became the site of one of Paris’ most important public markets and shopping arcades, and has maintained that tradition, with artisan boutiques and luxury fragrance makers now occupying the square’s “galleries”, and overlooking the elegant formal gardens. Standing in quirky contrast to the regal 17th-century architecture, ultramodern, black and white columns from Daniel Buren jut out at the south end.

View holiday rentals in .1st Louvre



Old shopping arcades Old shopping arcades

Exiting the Palais Royal from the north side, you’ll find yourself on the Rue des Petits Champs. From here, at #4, you can access the Galerie Vivienne, a majestic old shopping arcade built in the 1820s that preserves its light, airy elegance and today houses numerous shops, cafés and restaurants. Admire the glass rotundas, spiral staircase, delicate mosaics and other decorative detail here, and browse the shops here and at the adjoining Galerie Colbert, before exiting on Rue de Richelieu.

View holiday rentals in .2nd Bourse



Bibliothèque nationale (National library) Bibliothèque nationale (National library)

From the shopping arcades, you’ll spill out onto Rue de Richelieu. Just across the street at number 58 is the Bibliothèque nationale (old National Library), one of Europe’s first public research centres and holding an important collection of rare books and manuscripts still consulted by scholars today. In total, some six million maps, books, and documents are stored here. Temporary exhibits dedicated to book and art history are open to the public.

View holiday rentals in .3rd Le Marais



Eating and drinking Eating and drinking

For fine French-style dining in the area that won’t break the bank (and, remarkably, offers many vegetarian options) I recommend Macéo, located just behind the Palais Royal at #15, Rue des Petits Champs (Tel: +33 (0)1 42 97 53 85). You can visit their website here. For an extra-gourmet indulgence, you can try to get a seat at Le Grand Vefour, a three-starred Michelin restaurant within the walls of the Palais-Royal—but there’s a long waiting list, so reserve ahead. You can make a booking here. Lunch menus there are far more reasonable, so you might want to consider a midday meal. (17 Rue du Beaujolais, Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 96 56 27)

View holiday rentals in .4th Pompidou Centre



Palais Opera Garnier Palais Opera Garnier

Hop on the metro from Pyramides (line 7) to the Opera station, or walk (10 minutes) to take in the splendor of the nearby Palais Opera Garnier. Once home to the Paris opera, it now houses the national ballet, and stages several important performances every year. The opulent facade, featuring numerous sculptures in copper and other materials, was designed by Charles Garnier in the late 19th century. Inside, more sumptuous details await, including a magnificent, seven-ton bronze and crystal chandelier, and a surrealist but soft-toned fresco from French painter Marc Chagall in the main theater.

View holiday rentals in .5th Quartier Latin


Bibliothèque nationale (National library) © Vincent Desjardins
Palais Royal © Julien

Paris Accommodation

Sunny 3BR Facing the Marché Saint-Germain

This spacious, charismatic property is located across from the Marché-Germain and down the street from the Saint-Sulpice Church. With three bedrooms, a large living area, a modern bathroom, and a fully equipped American-style kitchen, the apartmen...


This bright and sunny one bedroom apartment is located on the border of the 8th and 9th arrondissements. Calm and cozy, it is on the top floor of the building, which makes it very luminous. The apartment has elevator to the 5th, and one floor wal...

New quiet 1 bedroom in Louvre district near Rivoli, Pont Neuf, Saint Germain

Totally Renovated, Great Location This apartment is on the 2nd floor of a quaint building on the rue Bailleul. A 3rd person can sleep on the queen-sized sofa-bed in the living room. It features a fully equipped kitchen, a master bedroom (with que...

Special Offer from November 26th to December 23rd - 580 €/week

This one bedroom apartment is located in the district of Madeleine, it has a living room with an american kitchen equipped, a bedroom, a bathroom bathroom with shower and toilet. as well as a balcony. It was fully refurbished in 2012 by owners an...

1 bedroom, 1 bathroom in the center of Paris. Special offer 11/06-12/21 500€/wk

1 Bedroom/ 1 bathroom, A/C, Italian shower, apartment with high range equipment to afford best comfort. This property is located in the famous rue Saint Honoré, in a historical building constructed at the beginning of the 17th century. Located in...

Luxury and modern 3BD 3BTH A/C

Luxury 3 bedrooms / 3 bathrooms with A/C in the heart of Paris, few meters far from Champs Elysées This apartment is located in the 8th arrondissement, 50 meters from the Avenue des Champs Elysées. It is on the 7th floor of a recently renovated, ...

2 BR/2BTH in Saint Germain des Près - Special price 11/29-12/09 2000€/week

The apartment is located on the left bank of the Seine, between the famous rue de Buci, the Boulevard Saint Germain, the river 'La Seine' and la Place Saint Michel. The windows look over Saint Rue Saint André des Arts and an interior courtyard. ...

Last Minute Offer from November 28th to December 23rd - 900 €/week

On a quiet street in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près, this 600 square foot apartment is full of Parisian charm. The apartment features two bedrooms—one with a queen-sized bed, one with a single bed—and has a large modern bathroom with a bathtu...

Last minute offer 1 BR with Terrace, A/C Near The Louvre

This one bedroom of 59sqm is composed of the apartment (37sqm) and a terrace (20sqm) facing the East with beautiful views on Paris. The apartment is centrally located in the 1st district, less than 5 minutes walking from the Louvre museum. The bu...

2BR/2BTH With A/C, Exercise Room, Garden in 6th Arrondissement

2 Bedrooms/ 2 bathrooms, spacious living room, A/C and private exercice room in the heart of Saint Germain des Près. Located near the River Seine, this 100 m² apartment is modern and completely renovated in 2013. Accessible through a quiet courty...

France mapCorsica Provence Alps Cote d'Azur Languedoc Roussillon Midi-Pyrenees Aquitaine Rhone Alpes Auvergne Limousin Poitou Charentes Franche Comte Burgundy Alsace Lorraine Champagne Ardenne Ile de France (Paris region) Centre-Loire-Valley Pays de la Loire Britanny Normandy Normandy Nord-Pas-de-Calais Picardie World Italy Spain

Search for holiday rentals
Search for holiday ideas

Special offers and late deals

Sign up to our newsletter

Our latest updates and special offers, direct to your inbox

Advertise with HomeAway

Related Articles


Other Categories

Popular Articles