The oldest and one of the most beautiful squares in Paris, the Places des Vosges is spectacular at any time of year. I like it in the winter, the bare trees mean that you get a wonderful view of the magnificent 17th century red brick buildings that line the square. Built under Henry IV between 1605 and 1612, it was one of the first squares to be planned and built in a symmetrical and harmonious style – only the pavilions of the King and Queen facing each other across the park are taller than the other buildings. The buildings all look identical, their width equals their height and the roofs are half the height of the facade – although if you look closer you will see that the windows and wrought iron balconies are often different.
The arcades are full of cafés, restaurants and art galleries, and the apartments above are some of the most expensive real estate in Paris. Victor Hugo lived at number 6, his house is now a small museum. Located in the Marais, the square has been a fashionable place to stroll, relax and have parties since the 17th century, and today it is a wonderful place to explore or have a picnic – there are plenty of benches and in the summer months the grass is full of people picnicking and enjoying the sunshine. If you are in the Marais, don’t miss it, bring a picnic or a beautiful eclair from the nearby Eclair de Genie and enjoy relaxing in the spectacular surroundings.
- Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris metro: St Paul