Thursday, May 7, 2009

jour no. 7 - place des vosges






When my friend Nicole and I were in Paris in the mid-'90s, we stayed in the Marais, very near Place des Vosges. For those of you who don't know it, Place des Vosges is kind of like Gramercy Park, only not locked up, and about 300 years older. It was built in the time of Henri IV, who instituted a whirlwind of renovations to the city as soon as he took charge. Place des Vosges epitomized his accomplishments: brick and stone construction, which replaced the now-banned timber houses, and a classical elegance inspired by the cities of Italy.

Four hundred-plus years later, the square is hopping. Young children playing in the two sandboxes, crowds of older kids just hanging around, and all sorts of people -- locals and tourists alike -- strolling, reading, jogging, and people-watching. There was even a movie shoot going on in one of the arcades surrounding the square.

In the center is a statue of Henri's son, Louis XIII -- not the most popular king in France's history, but one who, thanks to the efforts of his right-hand man, Richelieu, also had a lasting impact on Paris. Under his reign, two muddy islands on the Seine were joined and developed, resulting in the lovely, tranquil Ile Saint-Louis.

3 comments:

  1. Met this French guy last night. Some friends own a restaurant just behind Place des Vosges:

    Chez Janou
    2 rue Roger Verlomme
    75003

    01-42-72-26-41

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  2. Ronzoni RigatoniMay 9, 2009 at 7:55 AM

    Spent a great afternoon there back in the 80s. 2 bottles of wine, a loaf of bread (for real!) and my French-speaking girlfriend. Under one of the arcades, a van carrying a 66-key piano was unloaded and the piano player, accompanied by a clarinetist, played Dixieland all afternoon, advertising a local group, Les Rats du Caves. Unforgettable.

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  3. I am no weeping; oh Paris.

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