The gardens of arcaded Palais Royal, once Cardinal Richelieu's private mansion, are so beautiful it's hard to believe that they were once one of the most debauched areas in the capital, and starting point of the French Revolution.
In the 1780's the palace was a rumbustious centre of Paris life, where aristocrats and the financially challenged inhabitants of the faubourgs rubbed shoulders, and the coffee houses of its arcades attracted radical debate.
Here Camille Desmoulins called the city to arms on the eve of Bastille Day. Then after the Napoleonic wars, Wellington and Field Marshal von Blücher lost so much money at the gambling dens that Parisians claimed they had won back their entire dues for war reparations.
Nowadays the arcades surrounding the gardens are an eccentric world of antique dealers, designer vintage shops and jewellery boutiques, while the gardens themselves make for a peaceful stroll and are a plum spot for a game of boules.