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Place des Vosges - Paris 3rd & 4th


Musee Picasso

Place des Vosges

Village St Paul

Ile St Louis

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Arriving through the rue de Birague, here is the most beautiful square in Paris: PLACE DES VOSGES.The history of this square is a long one. It’s in the Hotel de Tournelles that Henri II died of the wounds he received after a tournament. His wife, Catherine de Medicis tore the building down and on the spaces that were set free, a horse market was set up for some time.

The place was also a favourite duelling spot! King Henry IV decided to build a new hotel des Tournelles and as he had certain ideas about aesthetic and economical preoccupations, he decided, in 1605, the building of a square based upon new architectural criteria. : regular plan, identical facades interrupted by two symmetrical pavilions: Pavillon du Roi et Pavillon de la Reine. Until that time, you could build anyhow, anywhere, as you pleased without any prepared plan. That's what gives this special touch to the old streets of the Middle Ages. The inauguration took place for the double marriage of the king and his sister in 1612 and it soon turned out to a very residential area. Henri IV started then to build houses around the square (financed by the authorities) and soon the wealthy aristocracy settled down here (the marquise de Sevigne was born at no.1). First called “Place Royale”, it is an example of admirable planning and lay out , surrounded by arched galleries in front of the beautiful houses .

Take your time, look and walk around, admire the great refinement of colors: the roofs are blue and the windows are in white stone and red brick, just like the arches. The central garden you see now didn’t exist at that time. It is planted with tile trees today and houses a statue of Louis XIII set up in 1825.

Look at the Pavillon de la Reine, with its sculpted doors, monumental staircases, splendid ramps, interior yards and gardens. Finally, the place Royale was renamed Place des Vosges, to honour the first region in France who paid taxes in 1800.

Victor Hugo, France’s greatest poet “alas” as said Andre Gide, lived here from 1832 until 1848 at no.6, Sully at no.7, Theophile Gauthier and Alphonse Daudet at no 8 and Richelieu at no. 21, Hotel de Richelieu. Even Georges Simenon rented an apartment on the place des Vosges for a while.

Today, the place still radiates the aristocratic atmosphere of old times. It’s a quiet square, with nice fashion boutiques, speciality shops, antique shops, the very special small knick –knack shop “Max Spira”, tea parlours and the famous and dignified restaurant l’Ambroisie. Street musicians add sometimes more animation to the place. A feast for the eyes.

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