ISSUE 75  |  Travels with an Editor: Paris

Hike of the Week: Getting Lost in the Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris

June 07, 2013 3:00 PM

BY Alexa Hotz

The thing about Paris is, and it’s really such a cliché, but it’s the best city to get lost in. I’ll pick a destination, maybe a shop or restaurant, and just head over to its arrondissement for the afternoon; I’ll see where that takes me. It might not be the most efficent way to get around–and if you adhere to this method, I can promise you that you’ll end up missing half the things on your list. But if this isn’t your first or second time to Paris and you’ve seen the greats, the drifting method can be great. On my first day in Paris I went out to shoot photos at Arts & Science, a clothing shop in a covered passage in the 1st, and afterward I just kind of strolled around; it was nice weather that day. I happened upon an arcade that turned into a garden and…turns out, it was the Jardin du Palais Royal.

Photography by Alexa Hotz for Gardenista.

Surrounding the garden are the colonnaded arcades of the Palais Royal, where 180 electric lamps hang all around. The palais itself was built in 1629 for Cardinal Richelieu by Jacques Lemercier. In the late 18th century the interior gardens were fully enclosed, and size became limited as the palais was enlarged. The arcades were later populated with fashion boutiques, cafés, and gambling houses. After the storming of the Bastille in 1789, authorities began closing gambling houses, but the shops remain in the arcades today.

In the typical fashion of the capital’s gardens: strict rows of lime trees line either side of the garden.

Park goers play pétanque; for other classic sets see our post: Lawn Games: Pétanque from Provence.

It is a rare moment that I really appreciate a well-manicured garden–I usually like them a little overgrown, wilder–but I loved the way the canopy allowed just a thin belt of light through.

The light’s passage was like an accidental nod to American artist James Turrell.

Above: A little hub of fully blooming purple tulips.

Slow down your walk through the gardens, ending up on a Luxembourg-style bench or chair, and have a good read or watch the children playing in the yard. 

For more places to visit in and around Paris see our Travels with an Editor: Paris series and visit our Paris City Guide.

Location of the Palais Royal (and just near are the gardens): 


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