Paris - Ile De France

Place des Vosges - Marais - Paris History

This page was updated on: Thursday, December 26, 2019 at: 10:34 am

Place Royale

The Place des Vosges, one of the landmarks of the historical Marais.

One of the oldest squares in Paris, it is also one of the city's five 'royal squares' with Place des Victoires, Place Dauphine on Ile de la CitéPlace Vendôme and Place de la Concorde.

King Henri IV indeed commissioned the creation of the Place Royale in the early 17th century.

The square changed name, but has amazingly retained its original layout.

Four rows of two-storey mansions form a perfect square and encompass the gardens and lawns.

The 36 identical mansions include two taller pavilions.

The Pavillon du Roi - King's Pavilion - is the entrance on Rue de Birague.

The Pavillon de la Reine - Queen's Pavilion - exits onto Rue des Francs-Bourgeois.

The mansions' white stone and red brick facades and grey-blue slate roofs create architectural unity and symmetry enhanced by a wealth of cornices and dormer windows.

Ground-floor arcades accommodate art galleries, shops and restaurants, most open on Sundays, which turn the Place des Vosges into one of the most elegant squares of Paris.

Place de l'Indivisibilité - Place des Vosges

The square was inaugurated in 1615, for the wedding of King Louis XIII and Ann of Austria.

It immediately became the centre of the royal court festivities, and by result the city's trendiest area! Aristocrats and senior personalities of the kingdom indeed lived there or in the close vicinity.

Came the French Revolution...

The Place Royale was renamed Place de l’Indivisibilité!

However, it took its current name a few years later, in order to pay tribute to the department of Vosges in Eastern France.

Decline and revival of the Place des Vosges

Let's go back to the late 17th century, when Louis XIV and his court moved to Versailles.

Courtiers and the rich and famous of the time deserted the Place des Vosges to settle in the Faubourg Saint-Germain and Faubourg Saint-Honoré, two districts that developed along the road that led to the royal palace.

But the Place des Vosges was not, and therefore lost its appeal!

As a result, the patrician mansions were let or sold to trade people, artisans and merchants and divided in apartments, shops and workshops.

The square - and the Marais - fell into oblivion until 1960, when local residents founded a heritage protection committee.

They restored the old mansions and the Place des Vosges to their former glory, turning the area into one of the most sought after in Paris. Many famous people, actors, writers and politicians have since moved there.

Place des Vosges

Musée Victor Hugo on Place des Vosges

Victor Hugo was among those who fell for the timeless beauty of the Place des Vosges, as he lived in the Hôtel de Guéménée at no.6 from 1832 to 1849.

The City of Paris bought the mansion in 1902 for the centenary of his birth and founded the Musée Victor Hugo, which displays the author's vast collection of drawings.

N.B. The museum is currently closed for renovation until March 2020.

Directions: 4th District - Follow Rue Saint-Antoine -Turn right into Rue de Birague
Metro: Bastille on Lines 1, 5, 8
Coordinates: Lat 48.856182 - Long 2.365758

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Notre Dame des Victoires Basilica

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Hôtel Salé, home to the Picasso Museum

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