The Place du Vosges is one of the most beautiful squares in all of Paris. Located in the Marais (4 arr) the square is surrounded by buildings in a court like setting. There are two stunning fountains which still bear the name of King Louis XIII who was in power when the square was completed in the 1600's. Also located in the square are two buildings, the Queen Pavillion and the King Pavillion. You will also find many galleries and shops, cafes and restaurants.
The squre is approached by an arcade/gallery with arches. Place du Vosges is a wonderful place to just stop and enjoy the wonderful fountains, take in some sun and do some people watching while relaxing after a long walk along the Marias.
Constructed in the 17th century under Henri IV, the first attempt at urban planning, the Place des Vosges, is now Paris oldest square.
A wide symmetric square, surrounded by 39 (some say 36) houses made of red brick with stone facades.
Louis XIII (1601-1643) has not gone down in history as one of France’s outstanding kings. He was not a popular swashbuckler like his father, Henri IV, nor was he an awesome long-lived Sun King like his son Louis XIV.
At age eight and a half Louis XIII became king when his father was assassinated, but until he grew up his mother, Marie de’ Medici, ruled on his behalf. As an adult he first had to get out from under his mother’s thumb, which he eventually did with the help of his prime minister, Cardinal Richelieu.
As a young king he also had to establish his authority over the aristocracy. As I have mentioned in my Place des Vosges travelogue, this square was formerly Place Royale, and in the early seventeenth century it was a fashionable meeting place for the aristocracy for the fighting of duels, often for trivial reasons and typically ending with the death of one of the combatants. One of the country's most illustrious noblemen, François de Montmorency-Bouteville, openly boasted that he had killed twenty-one men in duels.
Louis XIII was concerned about this because he needed these men as military officers, and they were killing each other off right and left. In 1626 the king outlawed dueling, which infuriated the aristocracy, since they considered it their legal right to kill each other with impunity (de s'entretuer librement).
On May 12, 1626, a group of six high-ranking aristocrats including Montmorency-Bouteville openly defied the king and met at the Place Royale at two in the afternoon. In the ensuing swordfight one of the men was killed and another gravely injured. The two victorious duelists fled but were soon captured, arrested, tried and convicted of murder. Despite the tearful pleading of their aristocratic wives and a ten-page memorandum by his prime minister, Cardinal Richelieu, the king refused to pardon them and they were publicly beheaded on June 22.
Appropriately, there is an equestrian statue of Louis XIII in the middle of the square at Place des Vosges.
Second photo: A biography of Louis XIII.
Third photo: Place des Vosges.
Fourth photo: A painting in the Louvre by Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), depicting the scene on that fateful day, just one day before his assassination, when Henri IV conferred the Regency on his wife Marie de’ Medici, with their son the future Louis XIII gazing up at her (not at him!) in admiration. The painting was commissioned years later by Marie de' Medici, so this is her version of the scene. See also my tip Ruebens and Marie de' Medici in the Louvre.
Fifth photo: Another painting of Louis XIII from the Louvre, this time as king. The painter was Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674) and the painting is displayed incongruously in room 26 of the Sully wing, a room which is otherwise devoted to Egyptian antiquities.
Next review from September 2011: Amélie’s Café
It is the oldest square in Paris. And you have to come here for a quick stop, but I honestly think this is one of the places you will either love or hate. It was very hot when we walked The Marais and the shade we found here was more than welcome. It was busy with locals and tourists alike.
I was not very impressed and most likely I will not go back unless I am in the area and I need a break from walking. The pictures look much better than it felt being there :)
This is where I unexpectedly heard two soprano voices singing opera arias, as I have described in my Place des Vosges travelogue.
Up to the year 2006, at least six other VT members reported that they had seen and heard people playing classical music under the arches at Place des Vosges.
--tini58de has a photo of a fantastic Mozart concert given by a group of young people -- that was my very personal highlight!
--ptitetoile also has a photo of musicians playing classical music...the acoustic is wonderful!!!!
--jakiline has a photo of a string orchestra, the classique metropolitain orchestra, playing Vivaldi under the arches.
--Beausoleil has also mentioned hearing classical music played under the arcades at the Place des Vosges. (She and her husband were staying at Hotel des Vosges on rue de Birague. From their hotel room window they often heard classical music coming up from under the arcades. "It was wonderful.")
--At the same place, tiabunna came across a group of young musicians playing one of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos to an appreciative audience -- and doing an excellent job of it.
--sachara wrote in a comment: "And yes, I heard classical music under the arches of Places de Vosges as well."
Second, third and fourth photos: Singing under the arches.
Fifth photo: A year later, in June 2007, there was a new café under the arches at the corner where the singers and musicians used to perform. But by 2011 they had found a new place to perform, as shown in my Place des Vosges travelogue.
See also my tip Louis XIII at the Place des Vosges.
Paris' oldest square and it's first of real urban planning in it's symmetry, it has an almost perfect look to it. Originally called Place Royale, was renamed in 1799 when the Vosges, a French department in eastern France were the first to pay their taxes. People such as the Cardinal Richelieu lived here at no 21, Madame de Sevigné was born here at 1 bis. Victo Hugo lived at no 6 during 16 years, where it has now been turned into a museum. The statue of Louis XIII, work of J-P Cortot was installed in 1825 replacing the bronze destroyed during the Revolution. The four fountains were also concieved by the same sculptor and are fed by water coming from the Canal de l'Ourcq. In the s/w corner is a passage through to the gardens of the Hôtel de Sully.
Nearst metro stations are St. Paul, Bastille and Chemin Vert.
The oldest square in Paris it is one of the first examples of symmetrical planning.
Built in 1604 , king Henry IV ordered that the 34 buildings linking the royal pavilions (king's and queen's mirroring each other) should have the same architecture.
A few buildings deserve reference as Victor Hugo's residence or Tournelles hotel. In the middle of the square there's a statue of Louis XIII added later.
Place des Vosges is the oldest planned square in Paris. It is located in the Marais district, The small park in the center of the square is one of the few places in Paris where you can sit on the grass, but watch out for signs reading pelouse en repos (the lawn is resting!)-- this means you're temporarily not allowed to sprawl out on the grass.
If you're a fan of old manses or of Hugo's work (Les Miserables or Nôtre-Dame de Paris otherwise known in the US as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, thanks Disney!) then this would be a cool spot for you.
This is a very maneuverable museum with a lovely old, creaking, sideways-slanted wooden staircase. Inside are the accoutrements of the writer showing his house as when he lived there. One interesting thing I learned here was that Hugo's son, Charles, was an artist and his works show in the Musée d’Orsay. This is an easy 1-hour tour.
Métro : Chemin-Vert, Saint-Paul, Bastille.
Bus : 20, 29, 65, 69 et 96.
Open every day except Monday from 10am-5:40pm
Carte Musées et Monuments accepted here.
Nearby is the lovely Café/Salon de Thé, Nectarine which serves inexpensive sweet & savory crêpes on a terrasse.
Photos: April 2003 & Feb 2006
This is a beautiful planned square of a former royal residence in the Marais in Paris. The royal quarters were divided between the King (Pavillon de la Roi) and the Queen (Pavillon de la Reine). The latter is now exemplified by a deluxe hôtel of the same name on this square.
Before I reached my hotel last trip, I sauntered through the Place des Vosges to see what it looked like. As I walked down rue Birague I took a pic of the archway entrance to the Place des Vosges then turned to take one of the cute Hôtel de la Place des Vosges located at 12 rue Birague.
While I meandered around the Place with my rolling suitcase behind me, I noticed a chic, young maman coaxing bébé to slide down a 2-foot 30º angle slide. Next was watching a little 3- or 4-year old expertly kicking around a soccer ball.
The very famous bistro, Ma Bourgogne, is located on this square but for simpler fare with simpler prices you might wish to try Nectarine (Restaurant - Salon de Thé, 16 Place des Vosges ~ ph# 01 42 77 23 78) for sitting on the terrasse and sampling sweet & savory crêpes.
Also nearby for you Les Miserables and Hunchback of Notre Dame fans is the Maison de Victor Hugo.
6 Place des Vosges
Photo: April 2003 & Feb 2006
5 Reviews and 708 Opinions The Four Seasons George V is truly one of the world's great hotels. I really, really love to stay...
Hotel Relais Bosquet Paris
8 Reviews and 880 Opinions I know Hotel Relais Bosquet for a long time and it always been a very satisfying hotel. The care of...
Saint James Paris Paris
1 Review and 146 Opinions Saint James is a beautifull place, oase of silence in the middle of Paris. Quietly good service,...