Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Palais Royal

“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.



Leah Marie Brown said...

Another wonderful post. Love the map of the Palais Royale. A little quid pro quo here...thought you might like this excerpt:

The Palais-Royal, an imposing three-story edifice with the main residence taking up the center and flanked by wings extending to either side, dominated its lesser neighbors bordering the Palais garden. Occupying the huge open space in front of the palace, this was actually a vast park, whose pleasant walks, shaded by elm and linden trees, were frequents by strolling bourgeois families, elegant couples, or young swains eyeing the cruising prostitutes, prohibited on pain of permanent banishment from the premises by the duke’s orders, from resorting to lewd gestures or excessive displays of their charms while plying their trade. The gates of the tall fence surrounding the park were open to Parisians headed for one of the many cafes or to the Opéra. (The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Gabriel Banat, page 261)

May said...

Ah yes, the Palais Royal..."intriguing" in all senses of the term.