The Galeries de Bois, at what is now Palais Royal, took their inspiration from the souks of Arabia and the forums of ancient Rome, and became the inspiration for the covered shopping passages and arcades that would spring up over Paris around the end of the 18th century. They were also an early prototype of the modern shopping centre.
Created in the 1770s in the square around the magnificent royal palace (originally built by Cardinal Richelieu in 1628 and later inhabited by royals), they became the artistic, social and political centre of the French capital, drawing the great and good away from the royal court at Versailles.
By day the galleries, bookshops, cafés, and restaurants were a meeting place for the aristocracy, intellectuals and other members of the Parisien beau monde who mingled with students from the elite polytechnic school and traders from the Bourse (stock exchange).
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