Expatica: Exploring Paris First arrondissement
Some excerpts below. Happy reading!
Around and about Paris: The First arrondissement
As tourists snake their way to the Louvre Pyramid, or pack beneath, you may crave some relief in the nearby gardens of the Palais Royal, an arcaded haven of tranquillity, especially in the early hours of the morning. Expert Thirza Vallois offers a historical tour.
Between 1784 and 1830, on the other hand, the Palais Royal was the bustling centre of both intellectual and dissolute Paris. Cafés, restaurants, game-houses and brothels flourished under its arcades.
Whores and courtesans came here from all over Paris ‘faire le Palais’, as the saying went, among them the Pompadour’s mother. No wonder Casanova rushed here upon his arrival in Paris.
Palais Royal: Construction
In the late 18th century, the landlord of the palace was Philippe d’Orléans. Deep in debt, he built the arcades with shops running beneath as a rental business, drawing substantial profits in particular from the gambling houses and the brothels.
The newly converted Palais Royal was opened in 1784 to the satisfaction of all. The Palais Royal was the intellectual centre of the capital, studded with cafés where such prominent figures as Diderot used to sup and where dangerous new ideas circulated…