Europe

Paris: Best Public Squares

Splendid and refined. Lively and sedate. Paris’ 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 Dufrénoy, 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 m̩lange 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 Рbut not groaning Рwith picnicking families, spontaneous croquet games and the odd busker of relative repute.

A word of translated warning. The signs saying “Pelouse en repos” mean “the lawn is resting” 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.

Place d’Italie

Featuring two subway entrances, a fountain, and a large shopping centre.

Place Dupleix

This above ground Paris Metro station hosts a bi-weekly street market.

Place Denfert-Rochereau

This public square in Paris’ 14th arrondissement is filled with lovely green spaces and replica of the Lion of Belfort statue by Bartholdi.

Where to stay:

Hotel Le Bristol

Keppler Hotel Paris

Hotel Fouquet’s Barriere Paris

Paris City Guide

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