Les Palais Parisiennes: Beautiful Paris
If you’re planning a trip to Paris and have a love of palaces, you’re in luck. The city is full of beautiful palaces with real history behind those walls – some are now used by the government, others are open for visitors, but even just from the outside, these structures are sure to make any trip memorable.
The Palace of Versailles
A World Heritage Site for the past three decades, the Palace of Versailles was the hunting lodge of Louis XII, and later, for a brief period in 1862, the seat of the French government. Inside the historic structure, visitors can tour the Hall of Mirrors, the Grand Apartments of the King and of the Queen and the King’s bedchamber. Tours of the grounds and surrounding sites are available too.
Chateau de Vincennes
East of Paris, the Chateau or Vincennes is another historic palace. Construction began in the 14th century, and the chateau has had various uses throughout the years. Visitors can take part in educational activities, listen to an audio guide during a self-guided tour and brows the gift shop. This palaces, like many others, was first used as a royal hunting lodge. At one point, the relics of the Crown of Thorns were housed here, temporarily.
Palais de L’Elysee
The Elysee Palace, or Palais de L’Elysee, is the home of the French President; he hosts foreign dignitaries at another location not too far away. History notes that Louis Napoleon plotted his coup in the Silver Room on the first floor of the palace. The Portrait Room was once a dining room, and later a presidential office. In the late 1700s, the Banker to the Court purchased the palace to house his art collection.
Although it wasn’t declared a palace until 1791, the Luxembourg Palace was constructed by Marie de Medici, widow of Henry IV. The construction began in 1615 but was not completed until 1631. Over the years, the palace has been home to royalty, clergy, and even prisoners. It is now a place of political assembly, housing the French Senate.
Le Palais Royal
From 1639 until his death in 1642, this particular palace was the residence of Cardinal Richelieu, advisor to King Louis XIII. When Richelieu died, King Louis again became the owner and renamed it Le Palais Royal. Later, it became the House of Orleans – in the 1660s. When the Duchess of Orleans moved in, the Palaise Royal became quite the social gathering place, especially for lovers of public theater – at one point in its history the palace housed two separate theaters. Today, government has again taken over the Palais Royal. The Constitutional Council and the Ministry of Culture are now housed in the palace.
Perhaps best known as a wondrous museum in the heart of Paris, The Louvre is also a historic palace with a history all its own. Construction began in the 1200s and throughout the years, the structure of The Louvre has undergone several changes. Today, just the Salle Basse, or lower hall, remains of the original medieval structure. The mid 1300s saw the palace turned into a royal residence, and throughout the centuries, construction continued in some parts, stalled in others. In 1699, the first exhibition was held in the Louvre, a show of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture.