Best Paris Strolls

Stroll 5: Palais Royal & Vicinity

Stroll 5 Jardin du Palais Royal

Quick Description: Magnificent palace / park, plus a unique pilgrimage church, upscale 19th century shopping arcades, other significant attractions. 

Where: Right Bank, immediately north and east of the Louvre.  

Start at Place Collette, outside Metro station Palais Royal – Musee du Louvre (#1, #7 lines).  End at intersection of Rue de Rivoli and Rue de Marengo, near two Metro stations:  Palais Royal – Musee du Louvre (#1, #7 lines), and Louvre – Rivoli (#1 line).   

Duration: 45 min walk, @1.5-2 hrs with venue visits.    No Early Departure Option. 

Best Days: Wed – Sat. 

Best Start Time: 9am – Noon.

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Connects: by foot to Stroll #4 (The Louvre & Vicinity), or Stroll #6 (Les Halles-Pompidou-Hotel de Ville), and by quick Metro rides to Stroll 7 (Central Marais), or Stroll 8 (Southern Marais), or Stroll 9 (Western & Northern Marais), or Stroll 10 (Ile Saint Louis & Vicinity), or Stroll 15 (Concorde-Tuileries-Vendome), or Stroll 16 (Concorde-Madeleine-Expiatoire), or Stroll 17 (Concorde to Place de l’Alma), or Stroll 21 (Opera-Haussmann-Saint Lazare), or Stroll 29 (The Southern Fifth), or a standalone site, the Arc de Triomphe. 

Past and Present:  The Palais Royal complex, adjacent to the Louvre, was built in the 1600s by Cardinal Richelieu, the king’s first minister, to be his residence and offices.  By the late 1700s its courtyards had become an entertainment zone featuring theaters, gambling dens and brothels. Today, the palace buildings are apartments and offices.  Their soaring arcades face the spectacular central courtyards with art installations and a beautiful park, and also house upscale boutiques. The stroll also visits sites nearby, including the city’s oldest bookstore, three 19th century shopping arcades, a unique pilgrimage church, the landmark 17th century roundabout known as Place des Victoires, the 18th century Bourse du Commerce, featuring changing art exhibits, and the Medici Column, aka Tour de l’Horocope, which reportedly has a ghost.  En route, dining options include a landmark with haute cuisine, other classic French restaurants, a casual bar-b-que joint, and more. 

Attractions (in order): 

  • Librarie Delemain#155 Rue Saint Honore at Place Colette.  Paris’s oldest bookstore, founded in 1708.  Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 1-7pm.        
  • Palais Royal: Stretching from Place Colette north to Rue des Petits Champs. 17th  century palace complex, featuring spectacular courtyards and the Jardin du Palais Royal park, surrounded by open air arcades, called “galeries,” with upscale shops.  Daily, Oct-March 8am-8:30pm, April-Sept 8am-10:30pm, free.  
  • Galerie Colbert: #2 Rue Vivienne, just north of the Palais Royal.  Elegant 19th century former shopping arcade, now a landmark space, with fine architectural detail and a statue in the rotunda.  Daily 10am-8pm, free.
  • Galerie Vivienne: #4 Rue Vivienne, just north of the Palais Royal.  Elegant 19th century operating shopping arcade with fine architectural detail, mosaic tile floor, upscale boutiques and restaurants.  Open Daily, 8:30am-8pm, most businesses open Mon-Sat 10am-8pm. 
  • Basilique Notre Dame des Victoires: Place des Petits Peres, near Galerie Vivienne.  Pilgrimage church dating from the 17th century, uniquely adorned with tokens and inscriptions expressing thanks to the Virgin Mary for prayers answered.  Mon 8am-7:30pm, Tues-Sat 7:30am-9:15-pm, Sun 8:30am-7pm, free.   
  • Place des Victoires:  Close by the basilica and Galerie Vivienne.  Exquisite 17th century plaza and traffic rotary, with central statue of King Louis XIV, surrounded by picturesque buildings with upscale boutiques on the ground floor. 
  • Bourse de Commerce with Pinault Collection: #2 Rue de Viarmes.  This 18th century commodities market now houses the Pinnault Collection, changing exhibitions of contemporary art.   Wed-Mon 11am-7pm (Fri till 9pm), €14, free first Saturday of the month 5pm-9pm.  Guided tours in French most days, in English only Saturday at 11:30am.
  • Medici Column: Attached to the Bourse de Commerce  This 16th century tower was built by Queen Catherine de Medici to express her grief at the death of her husband, King Henri II, but it also was used by her astrologer and so is sometimes called Tour de l’Horoscope. Tower interior is not open to the public.
  • Galerie Vero-Dodat: #18 Rue de Bulboi.  Elegant 19th century operating shopping arcade, with upscale boutiques.  Open Daily, 7am-10pm, most businesses open Mon-Sat 10am-8pm. 

Dining Suggestions (in order):

  • Le Nemours: #2 Place Colette (in front of the Palais Royal).  French cuisine, short brasserie menu, including breakfast dishes.  Traditional room, outdoor seating under soaring arcade.  Mon-Fri 8am-Midnight, Sat 9am-Midnight, Sun 9am- 10pm.  Average cost @€11E-30.    
  • Le Grand Vefour: #17 Rue de Beaujolais (north end of Palais Royal complex). French haute cuisine.  Elegant, gilded room.  Tues-Sat Noon-2:15pm, 7:15-9:30pm.  Average cost: @€115.  Reservations suggested.  
  • Willi’s Wine Bar: #13 Rue des Petits Champs, just north of Palais Royal.  Wine bar serving lighter French fare.  Cozy modern room. Mon-Sat Noon-Midnight, food service Noon-2pm, 7-10pm.  Prix-fixe meals @€21-28. 
  • Le Grand Colbert: #2 Rue Vivienne, just north of Palais Royal.  Famous, classic brasserie offering French / Alsatian cuisine. Art Nouveau room that served as a set in the 2003 film “Something’s Gotta Give.”  Daily, Noon-Midnight.  Prix-fixe meals @€30-40.  Reservations suggested. 
  • Rotistreet: #2 Rue des Petits Champs, just north of Palais Royal.  Fast-food French bar-b-que, plus quiches.   Casual space, some outdoor tables.  Mon-Fri Noon-8:30pm, Sat Noon-4pm.  Prix-fixe meals featuring meat, poultry or fish main with dessert and glass of wine @€15. 
  • Le Moulin de la Vierge (aka Le Bar de Moulin) #10 Place de Petits Peres opposite Basilique Notre Dame des Victoires.  Bakery/Bar/Café. Retro look, indoor and outdoor seating.  Daily 7am-Midnight.  Moderate prices. 
  • Café de l’Epoque: #2 Rue du Bouloi, at Rue Croix des Petits Champs, next to the entrance for Galerie Vero-Dodat.  French cuisine.  Art Deco room, outdoor seating under big awning    Daily, 7am-Midnight.  Average cost @€35-40 3 courses.  Okay to stop just for a coffee or glass of wine. 

the route is full of other good dining options offering a variety of cuisines and price ranges,  especially at Galerie Vivienne, along Rue Coquillière, and at the plaza opposite the Bourse du Commerce.

Ready to stroll?
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Stroll Map

Ready to stroll?
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