The Place des Vosges in Paris

The Place des Vosges is one of the beautiful and historic squares in Paris that dates back to the 1600s and it is one of the popular places to visit with it being home to many art galleries, gourmet restaurants and the Maison Victor Hugo.

History of Places des Vosges

Even before this square was there, there was once a large building called the Hotel de Tournelles that was constructed in the late 1300s and was designed as a home for the royal family.

The large lawn area by this grand building had always been a very popular place for duals and tournaments, and the Hotel de Tournelles was occupied by royalty until 1559, which unfortunately was when King Henry II was critically injured in a tournament and died a few days later.
Place des Vosges garden
His wife Catherine de Medicis was devastated by the kings death and moved to the Louvre palace, which is now the impressive museum in Paris, then some time later on she had the whole building demolished.

A few years later, under the reign of King Henri IV a programme was put in place to improve the city of Paris, and in 1605 work begun on the new square, which at the time was to be called Place Royale.

A Royal pavilion was built at the southern end of this completely symmetrical square, which was known as the Kings pavilion and another, on the opposite site was classed as the Queens pavilion.  King Henry IV then ordered that all the other buildings that surrounded the square were to be designed in exactly the same style with red brick, stone facades and steep slate roofs that had dormer windows, plus these were all built over vaulted arcades.

However the two pavilions are actually taller than the rest of the uniformed buildings surrounding the square and these provide the access to the square through large arches, yet only one of these ended up with vaulted ceilings instead of both.  And even though they were classed as royal pavilions, there has been no royalty ever actually reside in the buildings.

And at the same time as the Place Royale was being constructed, the king was also overseeing numerous other planning improvements to the city of Paris, including the Place Dauphine on the Ile de la Cite and the Pont Neuf bridge that connected the island with the left and right banks of Paris across the River Seine.
Anyway, getting back to the Place Royale, it is understandable that it is a major part of the history of Paris, as in fact, it is the oldest square in Paris that many others were modelled upon throughout Europe.

However, King Henri IV was assassinated in 1610 and the heir to throne was his son Louis XIII, but at that time he was too young and it was the wife of Henri that had to oversee things until he came of age.

But the Place Royale was inaugurated in 1612 and later on there was a major celebration held here for the marriage of King Louis XIII and Anne of Austria.

Now, once King Louis XIII came to reign by himself, he relied heavily on Cardinal Richelieu to oversee the ruling of France and expand the territories and it was Cardinal Richelieu that had a bronze statue of King Louis XIII on a horse erected in the centre of the square.

Yet many, many decades later, during the French revolution, the statue was melted down and then when Napoleon Bonaparte came to power, he renamed the square to Place des Vosges in honour and gratitude to the Vosges area of France, as they were the first area in the country to pay taxes.
Fountains inside Place des Vosges
Arched walkways of Place des Vosges
But by 1815 the square was again renamed Place Royale and then a plan was put in place for the whole square to have a complete makeover and four fountains along with a new statue were commissioned and the sculptor Louis Dupaty was given this important task. However, Louis Dupaty died and the task was taken over by the sculptor Jean-Pierre Cortot and so, the four statues that obtain water from the Ourcq that supplied some of Paris, along with this new statue of King Louis XIII were inaugurated in 1825.

Then later on in the 1800s, the square had its name changed back to Place des Vosges and this of course, is still the name it has today.

The Place des Vosges today

The Place des Vosges is a uniformed square that is located in the Marais area of Paris and it is mainly situated within the 4th Arrondissement, however a part of the square also lies in the 3rd Arrondissement of this incredible city.

As with much of Paris, the history of the Place des Vosges is fascinating, and in fact, it is the oldest square in the city, that has influenced the design of many others throughout Europe, yet this elegant park is still a landmark in Paris that is worthy of a bit of time to visit.

Many people visit the Place des Vosges just to relax in the park with its trees, the four fountains and the statue of King Louis XIII, or to admire the 17th century style of French architecture from the uniformed buildings that surround it.
Entrance for Place des Vosges
These elegant buildings all have archways that you can now stroll around and under these there are numerous art galleries, restaurants like La Place Royale and Carette that is also great for sandwiches and snacks, yet their specialities are pastries and macaroons.

Incredibly there is even a luxury beauty parlour with spa, Hamman and fitness place called Carita along with Dammann, that have been tea merchants in Paris since 1692 and they have a shop on the Place des Vosges selling fine teas, herbal teas and gifts.

Also, did you know that the famous author of Les Miserables and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo, once resided at Number 6 Place des Vosges during the years 1832 through to 1848?  And that particular building, called the Hotel de Rohan-Guemenee, is now home to the Maison Victor Hugo, which is one of the state owned museums in Paris where you can see how he lived and worked.

So there will be something for everyone to enjoy at the Place des Vosges square while you are on holiday in Paris, whether you are into history, shopping, fine dining or if you just need some relaxation.

Visiting Place des Vosges

Located within the 4th Arrondissement you will find that getting to the Place des Vosges via public transport in Paris is very easy, with several options within walking distance including no less than four Metro stations.

To start with in a westerly direction you have the Saint-Paul stop serving Line 1, in a northerly direction you have the Chemin Vert stop serving Line 8, in an Easterly direction you have the Breguet - Sabin stop serving Line 5, and in a southerly direction there is the Bastille stop serving Lines 1, 5 and 8.

Alternatively the Bus Lines 20, 29, 65, 69, 76 and 96 along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via lines N02, N11 and N16 will all get you within walking distance of this garden and square, not forgetting the Victor Hugo Museum or Carette, the famous pastry house, that are located here.