One of my very favorite places in Paris is the Palais-Royal—both a hub of activity and a garden oasis in the city’s first arrondissement. Its storied history goes back to the 17th Century, when it was built as the grand residence of Cardinal Richelieu. Later, it became a royal palace and, in the 18th Century, home to a famed shopping arcade, where Parisians went to see and be seen as they browsed the luxury goods for which Paris is famous.
For modern residents and visitors to the city, the Palais-Royal is the ultimate Parisian experience. It’s a retreat in the middle of the city, a garden for everyone, a public space that is still private. When I am in Paris, it is where I meet my best friend, Valerie next to her jewelry boutique in the Palais-Royal. After work, we sit in the gardens on a bench under the plane trees and catch up. Parisians treasure places like the Palais-Royal because they give the feeling of wealth—but a wealth far beyond material riches. We’re aware of the privilege of being able to use such a magnificent public space. The Palais-Royal truly belongs to everyone.
One of the most enduring handbag designs in my collection is a tote inspired by and named for the Palais-Royal. It has a classic shape and aesthetic that Parisians will recognize—it’s the bag on the arm of the elegant older woman walking her pampered dog, over the shoulder of the young mother chasing her toddler, on the bench beside a pair of girls laughing under the plane trees. I’ve added exterior pockets on each end, where you can stash sunglasses, a phone, or a water bottle, and I’ve played with different colors and leathers. In the end though, the Palais-Royal is a bag you’ll keep forever, something beautiful and functional and special.