Top Ten Essential Architecture top ten Paris Squares, Areas and Parks  
     
  For a more complete list, see Paris Main List  
1 Place des Vosges  
034-Place_Vosges_Paris_Mai_2006_011.jpg (75314 bytes)

architect

Louis Métezeau

location

Paris

date

Henri IV 1605

style

French Renaissance

construction

masonry

type

Outdoor space

The Place des Vosges is Paris's oldest square. It is located in le Marais, and is part of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements of Paris.

Originally known as the Place Royale, the Place des Vosges was built by Henri IV from 1605 to 1612. A true square (140 m x 140 m), it was the first program of royal city planning, built on the site of the Hôtel des Tournelles and its gardens. At a tournament at the Tournelles, a royal residence, Henri II was wounded and died. Catherine de Medicis had the Gothic pile demolished and moved to the Louvre.
 
     
2 Bois de Boulogne  
3-bois01.jpg (61608 bytes) The Bois de Boulogne is a park located along the western edge of the 16ème arrondissement of Paris, near the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt.

The site was made into a park by Napoleon III in 1852. The Bois de Boulogne was officially annexed by the city of Paris in 1929, and was incorporated into the 16ème arrondissement. (Like the Bois de Vincennes, it is however generally not counted as part of Paris proper, since it only consists of public land with no population except for custodians.)

The Bois de Boulogne has an area of 8.459 km² (3.266 sq. miles, or 2,090 acres), which is 2.5 times larger than Central Park in New York, and 3.3 times larger than Hyde Park in London.
 
     
3 Champs-Élysées  
1.Champs-Elysees-01.jpg (100314 bytes) The Champs-Elysées (literally the "Elysian fields") is a broad avenue in the French capital, Paris. Its full name is actually "avenue des Champs-Elysées". With its cinemas, cafés, and luxury specialty shops, the Champs-Elysées is one of the most famous streets in the world. The name refers to the Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed in Greek mythology (i.e. heaven). The Champs-Elysées is also called "la plus belle avenue du monde" or "the most beautiful avenue in the world" in French.  
     
4 Passage du Cheval Blanc  

architect

Various builders throughout Paris history

location

2 Rue de la Roquette, 11th.

date

17th century

style

Various

construction

Various

type

Shops, etc.

 
     
5 Canal de l’Ourq  
These narrow passages housed poor craftsmen, who were among the first to revolt in 1789. Parisian workers’ lives had been strictly regulated by their guilds since the Middle Ages, but the Faubourg Saint-Antoine escaped the expensive guild system by placing itself under the protection of the local Abbess. From the beginning of the 17th century, the area was known for its rebellious attitude towards the King. When the Revolution came, the Faubourg exploded. Walking through the mixture of buildings in this passage, you have to imagine the throngs of people who lived here, crowded into tiny apartments above noisy workshops. Child labor was normal and horses powered the large machinery crammed into these passages. Today these buildings have been beautifully cleaned up, but the narrow buildings to the left are a good reminder that the vast majority of Parisians still lived in overcrowded, poorly-sanitized, truly Medieval conditions, even as the wealthy constructed magnificent Neo-classic monuments.  
     
6 Square du Vert-Galand  

architect

various

location

Paris 1st - métro: Pont-Neuf
Very quiet and romantic garden at the tip of Ile de la Cité, offering a great view over the Seine.

construction

trees, etc.

type

Outdoor space/ Park

One great place to have a picnic is the Square du Vert-Galand. At the tip of Ile de la Cité and overlooking the Seine, this spot is ideal for sitting down and relaxing in Paris. The closest metro stop is the Pont Neuf. One movie filmed in and around this area that I love is called The Lovers on the Bridge or Les Amants du Pont-Neuf with Juliette Binoche.
 
     
7 Ile Saint-Louis  

architect

various

location

Paris 4th - métro: Pont-Marie
Very charming and romantic island in the heart of Paris.

date

One of France's first examples of urban planning, it was mapped and built from end to end during the 17th-century reigns of Henri IV and Louis XIII.

type

Outdoor space/ Park

The Île Saint-Louis is one of two natural islands in the Seine river, in Paris, France (the other natural island is Île de la Cité, the Île des Cygnes is artificial). The island is named after King Louis IX of France (Saint Louis).
The island is connected to the rest of Paris by bridges to both banks of the river and by the Pont Saint Louis to the Île de la Cité. This island was formerly used for the grazing of market cattle and stocking wood. One of France's first examples of urban planning, it was mapped and built from end to end during the 17th-century reigns of Henri IV and Louis XIII. A peaceful oasis of calm in the busy Paris centre, this island has but narrow one-way streets, no métro stations and two bus stops. Most of the island is residential, but there are several restaurants, shops, cafés and ice cream parlours at street level, as well as one large church, Église St. Louis en L’Isle.
 
     
8 Place de Furstemberg  

location

Paris 6th - métro: Mabillon
A very pretty square in the heart of the Latin Quarter.

type

Outdoor space/ Park

This famous little place is the heart of St-Germain des Pres left bank "chic adresse". All around, you will find many prestigious stores of design, materials, decoration and antiques. Many artists have painted this romantic Place. You will find there the Musée Delacroix. This Musée is where the artist lived and worked from 1857 until his death in 1863. the renovated and enlarged museum holds changing temporary exhibitions of Delacroix's work (consult Pariscope for details). Displayed here permanently in the painter's old apartment and studio are a few of his watercolours, a self-portrait of him dressed as Hamlet and some graphic paintings of a lion hunt. Delacroix's major work is exhibited permanently at the Louvre and the musee d'Orsay, and you can see the murals he painted at nearby St-Sulpice Church.
 
     
9 Place du marché Sainte-Catherine  

location

Paris 4th - métro: Saint-Paul
Very intimate square in the heart of the Marais, surrounded by restaurants.

date

Built in the 13th century, in honor of Saint Catherine

type

Outdoor space/ Park

The Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine is an example of how quaint and village-like the Marais can be-- though during weekends and high tourist season, this is not always the case.
Enjoy the cheerful atmosphere of the square. You may see neighborhood kids bounding about: this is a favorite spot for play.
Interesting Facts:
Built in the 13th century, in honor of Saint Catherine
The buildings surrounding the square are recent, in Parisian terms anyway: they date to the 18th century.
The square was made pedestrian-only last century. Since then, it has become a favorite spot for laid-back, greenery-enhanced sipping and nibbling. Take an opportunity to do so here, if you'd like.
 
     
10 Axe historique  

architect

various

location

extends from the centre of Paris, France, to La Defense in the west.

date

17th century

style

NeoClassical

construction

various

type

Outdoor space

The Axe historique (historical axis) is a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfares that extends from the centre of Paris, France, to the west. It is also known as the "Voie Triomphale" (triumphal way).
 
     
11 Jardin du Luxembourg  

architect

Salomon de Brosse

location

Paris 6th - métro: Odéon or St-Michel or RER Luxembourg
One of the most romantic parks in Paris.
Luxembourg is the garden of the French Senate, which is itself housed in the Luxembourg Palace.

date

1615.

style

French Baroque

construction

Stone

type

Outdoor space/ Park Palace

The Palais du Luxembourg in the VIe arrondissement of Paris, north of the Luxembourg Garden, is where the French Senate meets.
The formal Luxembourg Garden (Jardin du Luxembourg) presents a 25-hectare green parterre of gravel and lawn populated with statues and provided with large basins of water where children sail model boats. In the southwest corner, there is an orchard of apple and pear trees and the théâtre des marionettes (puppet theatre).
 
     
12 Jardins des Tuileries  

architect

Philibert de l'Orme

location

Paris 1st - métro: Tuileries or Concorde
Former royal garden when the Louvre was the home of French kings, the Jardins des Tuileries have recently been embellished and are very pleasant today. Nice view over the Louvre, place de la Concorde and Musée d'Orsay.

date

Built 1564- Burnt 1871, demolished 1873.

style

French Baroque

construction

Stone

type

Outdoor space/ Park Palace

The Tuileries Palace stood in Paris, France, on the right bank of the River Seine until 1871, when it was destroyed. It closed the western end of the Louvre courtyard, which has remained unopen since the destruction of the palace.
 
     
13 Jardins du Palais Royal  

architect

Jacques Lemercier

location

Paris 1st - métro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre- 6 rue de Montpensie 75001 PARIS
Surrounded by beautiful covered galleries, this park was the site of many historical events.

date

1634

style

French Baroque

construction

Stone

type

Outdoor space/ Park Palace