One of the best kept secrets of Paris is the stunning Place des Vosges. It is a place that is easily overlooked if you don’t know it’s there. Fortunately, you can discover this second oldest of the city’s squares when you stay at the Hotel Castex, which is just a short, pleasant stroll away. We will be delighted to furnish you with directions, and right now we can give you some recommendations to enhance the experience of your visit. Learn the history of this enchanting Parisian location and then spend a pleasant day there. Visit the house of Victor Hugo, stroll beneath the arcades and listen to the busking musicians, relax in the gardens and stop at one of the fine restaurants to satisfy your appetite.
Enjoy a charming day in the Place des Vosges
The oldest example of urban planning in Paris, this historic square was commissioned in 1605 by the forward thinking King Henry IV, who was inspired by the colonnaded squares of the great Italian Renaissance cities. Completed in 1612 by Henry’s son, Louis XIII, it was originally called the Place Royale and was notable in that all the house frontages were constructed to the same design, with red brick, vaulted arcades, dormer windows and steeply pitched slate roofs. Notable residents have been Cardinal Richelieu, the painter Georges Dufrénoy, the poet Théophile Gautier and, of course, Victor Hugo.
The house at number 6 Place des Vosges where Victor Hugo resided from 1832 to 1848, and where he wrote much of Les Misérables, is now a museum containing many personal artifacts. Temporary exhibitions are also held here such as the current offering, Does The Soul Have A Face? On view until August 31st, this fascinating exhibition focuses on one of the writer’s lesser known novels, The Man Who Laughs, and shows how the work has been interpreted in other forms such as film, theatre, illustrations and comic books. It’s an opportunity to explore the life of a novel once it has left the author’s pen.
On the subject of illustrations, you might wish to check out the art galleries on the square’s periphery and do a little browsing. Or perhaps it’s time to take a seat on a bench or stretch out on the grass in the centre of the square and simply soak up the atmosphere and admire the architecture and beauty of the place. The pace of life feels tranquil here, so why not enjoy it?
Having worked up an appetite exploring the Place des Vosges you will note that there is no shortage of places to eat in the vicinity. We can certainly recommend La Place Royale, a restaurant at the southern end of the square, where you can enjoy a cosy and intimate meal, or the Restaurant Nectarine, where the staff are notably helpful and friendly, particularly if you need help in translating the rather excellent menu.
- Place des Vosges : Paris 4e
Metro: Bastille, lines 1, 5, 8 – Saint-Paul, line 1 – Chemin Vert, line 8
- Maison Victor Hugo : 6 place des Vosges, Paris 4e
Tel. 0033 (0)1 42 72 10 16
- Restaurant Place Royale : 2bis Place des Vosges, Paris 4e
Tel. 0033 (0)1 42 78 58 16
Picture copyright holder : Tourist office Paris - Photographer Daniel Thierry
Hotel Castex - A charming 3 star hotel in Paris, at the heart of the historic Marais district