Saturday, 4 July 2015

place dauphine

r o y a l   s q u a r e s  1 / 5

Did you know that Paris has 5 royal squares? For obvious reasons these do not include Place de la Bastille or Republique, but rather Place Vendome, Place des Vosges, Place de la Concorde, Place des Victoires & this little gem: place Dauphine. 

Located on Ile de la cite, near Pont Neuf, this public square was built in 1607 by King Henri IV who named it after his son Louis XIII, heir to the throne (known as "Dauphin" in French). The shape of the square is triangular & the space was originally enclosed by 32 identical houses. Although bankers & rich merchants lived here at the time - and maybe still do - the houses didn't & still don't qualify as "hotel particulier" as there aren't any adjacent garden. Still, it was chic enough for Yves Montand & Simone Signoret to take up residence here (number 15) & I wouldn't mind living here myself...

Most of the houses have since changed, allthough many of them have kept the charachteristic brick stones. A fire damaged the eastern row of buildings so the square now has an open view towards the Palais de Justice & the remaining ones have had their facades modified or been raised in height. The only two houses that haven't changed & still retain their original appearance are the two facing Pont Neuf.

There are several nice restaurants & cafes around the square, so make sure you stop to get a coffee, drink or even a meal. You'll find benches on the square where you can enjoy the beautiful architecture & the quietness of this place. Despite its central location, it's not overrun by tourists, maybe because it's a little bit hidden. Locals will come & read their newspaper under one of the pretty new chestnut trees (unfortunately the square lost its beautiful old ones a few years back due to a parasite) & you might even witness a game of petanque.

For the 4 other royal squares, stay posted, they will be popping up on this blog little by little over the next months.

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