Paris: Best Public Squares
Splendid and refined. Lively and sedate. Parisâ€™ Place Des Vosges is the leading European prototype of a royal residential square. Built in 1606 by Henri IV and housing the likes of writer Victor Hugo and post impressionist painter Georges DufrÃ©noy, it sits across the border of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, right in the Marais district. Part 17th century royal throwback, part meeting spot for Parisian fey, cashed-up youth, Place Des Vosges is wonderfully egalitarian while cunningly managing to keep the hoi polloi away.
Urban and symmetrical planning at its best, Place Des Vosges features a mÃ©lange of private residences, boutique hotels, cafes, restaurants, galleries and a posh tea providore. The square, oddly enough, is divided into grassy quadrants bordered by gravel paths and peppered with a fountain and strategically placed topiary. Summer days here are buzzing – but not groaning – with picnicking families, spontaneous croquet games and the odd busker of relative repute.
A word of translated warning. The signs saying â€œPelouse en reposâ€ mean â€œthe lawn is restingâ€ and you should park your blanket elsewhere.
Place de la Bastille – Photo credit
Discover where else to place yourself in the French capital.
Place de la Bastille
More landmark and meeting point than grassy respite, this square hosts an open air market, cafes and the occasional political rally.
Place de la Madeleine
A Catholic church in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, built to honour the glory of the Napoleonic army, now hosts prestigious marriages and funerals.
Featuring two subway entrances, a fountain, and a large shopping centre.
This above ground Paris Metro station hosts a bi-weekly street market.
This public square in Parisâ€™ 14th arrondissement is filled with lovely green spaces and replica of the Lion of Belfort statue by Bartholdi.
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