Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges (74)

The Place des Vosges was the first open square in the city and is considered by many, both Parisians and visitors, as one of the most beautiful squares in Paris and the world.

It was built in a symmetrical shape, and is a series of 36 red brick pavilions, 9 on each side of the square. Each one of them has 4 arcades on the ground floor, inclining slate roofs and dormer windows. The square was originally called Place Royale and took on its current name in 1800.

In the centre is a garden where in bygone time duels were held.

Initially Henry IV wanted to turn this space into silk workshops, but in 1605 changed his mind and decided to build the Place Royale, which would be a spot for public celebrations. The square began to take shape with the south pavilion, known as the Pavillon du Roi, the king’s pavilion. This was used as a model to build the others. The pavilion directly opposite, on the north side of the square, is the Pavillon de la Reine, the queen’s pavilion.

Henry IV was unable to see the completed work. He was murdered in 1610, two years before the square was officially opened. In 1615 a riding competition was held here to celebrate the marriage of Louis XIII with Anna of Austria. 1,300 jockeys paraded past to the sound of trumpets, bagpipes, oboes and violins. The torches lit up all over Paris and from the Bastille there was a firework display.

The statue of Louis XIII that you can see in the centre of the square is not the original, but dates from 1818. 

Among the illustrious guests of the houses in the square feature, for example, Cardinal Richelieu and the writer Victor Hugo.

The square is currently decorated with lime trees and has areas of lawn where you can rest after passing through the arcades and going into the elegant shops, art galleries and cafés there.

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