Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris!

Outings | History and heritage
La place des Vosges par Esprit de France
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Hôtel de la Place du Louvre
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The place was previously occupied by the Chateau de Tournelles

Whereas the growth of Paris on the right bank was initially carried out between the Seine and the old Roman road leading to Melun, as told in a previous itinerary devoted to the old Marais, its development was quickly pursued beyond this way, today known as rue Saint-Antoine. As early as the 14th century, a castle belonging to the royal family stood there, but at the time of Catherine de Medicis, it was abandoned. Indeed, during festivities and jousts organized in honour of a double royal wedding, King Henry II was mortally wounded by his adversary, the Earl of Montgomery, and he died in this Chateau des Tournelles. Catherine de Medicis, his wife, left the castle after this tragic event and even ordered its destruction.

Forty years later, Henri IV decided to build a Royal Square here. Its layout, almost square, has remained intact and today, under the name of Place des Vosges (given by Napoleon 1st), it is one of the best preserved ones in Paris. Henri IV, with his minister Sully, decided that all the pavilions surrounding the square should be identical, with the exception of the two central pavilions, a little higher and facing each other, the Pavillon du Roi and the Pavillon de la Reine. Therefore, there are 36 pavilions in all, built of brick and stone with a high and elegant blue slate roof. Henri IV unfortunately did not witness the completion because he was assassinated in 1610. It was inaugurated two years later for Louis XIII’s engagement with Anne of Austria and that is the reason why, now, a statue of this same king stands here. It can be admired today in the center of the beautiful quiet garden, punctuated by 4 beautiful fountains. The place has always sheltered famous personalities such as the Comtesse de Sévigné who was born at No. 1 bis or Victor Hugo who lived at No. 6 (a museum that we recommend and which keeps everything intact is dedicated to him), to speak only of writers. Do not resist the pleasure of strolling in the oldest square in Paris and lingering along the arcaded gallery bordering it: you will discover quietly, away from the tumult of the capital, art galleries and small restaurants...