The Place des Vosges is one of the most popular squares in the French capital, known for its picnic spots and shopping centers, as well as local galleries that feature different forms of art. The lush lawns and elegant gardens here add to the natural charm of the area, while the rustic redbrick mansion houses in the historic square make it a picturesque spot to explore during your Paris sightseeing tours.
There are lots of activities to spend time on when in this lovely neighborhood; from enjoying scrumptious meals on open terraces to shopping for Parisian souvenirs, you can have a lot of fun at Place des Vosges. Let us take quick look into the history of the former royal square, and see how this public spot came to be the tourist hub that so many know today.
The History of the 17th Century Square
The Place des Vosges is the first formally planned neighborhood of Paris, commissioned by King Henry IV in the 17th Century. The works on the central gardens and the first buildings of the square were completed by 1612, and the area was initially named Place Royale. It has since come to be regarded as a symbol of princely riches and architectural splendor.
The Place Royale embodied the spirit of the French and Italian Renaissance, with its structural design focusing on lush green spaces, geometric harmony, as well as patronizing towers. The buildings here featured steep slate roofs and redbrick façades, which made the square unique from other neighborhoods of Paris in that era. The grandeur of its original construction can still be experienced while on Paris sightseeing tours.
It is interesting to note that the site used to create this lovely square was the same spot where King Henri II was fatally wounded in the 12th Century. The Place de Tourelles, as it was then known, saw the rise of French aristocracy when it transformed into the Place Royale. In the 17th and 18th centuries, those of royal blood preferred this spot to conduct meetings and dine – Louis XIII and Anne of Austria even celebrated their betrothal at the very same square.
Although only a few of the royal family including Anne of Austria have actually lived in this neighborhood, many masters of art such as Victor Hugo, Sully, Cardinal Richelieu, and Madame de Sévigné later became residents of Place des Vosges. The museums and art galleries at this famous square stand witness to how those people left their mark on the life and culture of Paris.