The Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens occupy the south side of the Rue de Rivoli. On the opposite side, an arcade extends for more than a mile. Originally, Napoleon Bonaparte opened up the street from the Place de la Concorde and King Charles X continued it, as did King Louis-Philippe. Finally, Emperor Napoleon III extended it on down into the Marais (see: Right Bank).
Opposite the middle of the Louvre, the Place du Palais-Royal leads to the palace of Cardinal Richelieu, built in 1624 and willed to the royal family. King Louis XIV lived there as a child. Near the end of the 18th century Louis-Philippe d'Orléans, who became Philippe-Egalité during the Revolution, undertook extensive building around the palace garden. He contracted for the construction of a beautiful oblong of colonnaded galleries, and a theatre at each end of the gallery. The larger playhouse has been the home of the Comédie Française, the state theatre company, since Napoleon's reign. From the 1780s to 1837 the Palais Royal was the centre of Parisian political and social intrigue and the site of the most popular cafés. At the rear of the garden is the Bibliothèque Nationale, the national library of deposit, with a collection of more than 6,000,000 books, documents, maps, and prints.
At the point where the Grands Boulevards crossed an enormous new square, the new Opera House was built. The Opera Garnier, is a magnificent monument to the construction of the Second Empire. Just behind the Opera House, can be found the largest department stores.
Also on the rue de Rivoli, at the Place des Pyramides, is the golden statue of Joan of Arc situated close to where she was wounded at the Saint-Honoré Gate in her unsuccessful attack on English-held Paris on September 8, 1429. A little further along, towards the Place de la Concorde, the rue de Castiglione leads to the Place Vendôme, where at the centre, the Vendôme Column rises more than 44 metress (144 feet) high with the effigy of Napoleon Bonaparte, who had it erected in 1810. It was taken down during the Commune of 1871 and put back up by the Third Republic.
The rue de Rivoli shops include the most fashionable names in the world.