“And what are you writing in your memoirs, my dear?” asked the Duc d’Orléans of Madame de Genlis.
They had just finished an intimate supper in a secluded, upper chamber of the Palais Royal. From an open window came sounds of merriment regardless of the season of Passiontide. The cafés and theaters of the Duc d’Orléans’ palace courtyard were teaming with soldiers, streetwalkers, forgers, pickpockets, artisans and aristocrats. A footman and a waiting‑woman were quietly clearing away the crystal and porcelain from the linen-draped table, above which floated a chandelier shaped like Montgolfier’s balloon. The Duc lounged in a brocaded chair; on the wall behind him hung a life-size portrait of himself in the full regalia of a Knight of the Holy Spirit, complete with velvet mantle, diamond cross, and powdered wig. The man who sat beneath the painting, sipping cognac from a crystal snifter, his wig hanging over the back of the chair, was a study in contrasts with his own image. With untied cravat, wrinkled, partially unbuttoned shirt, and tousled sandy hair, he looked breezy and unkempt in spite of his striped vest, yellow coat of oriental silk, and high English riding boots. Only his aquiline Bourbon nose gave a certain doubtful dignity to his acne-scarred face, lined with self-indulgence.
~from Madame Royale by Elena Maria Vidal
A post by Melanie about the palace that was the hub of social life and revolutionary activity in Paris.