The French capital is famous for its historic squares such as Place de la Concorde and Place des Vosges. From the grandest squares celebrating the monarchs of France to the little secretive crossroads, here’s a list of the top 10 most beautiful squares of Paris.
Where are the most beautiful squares of Paris?
Paris is home to many squares, some large other small. Some are royal squares, others are more functional.
Before visiting Paris, it’s important to know that in French, a square is “une place”.
But first, what exactly is a square (or place in French) ?
Basically, a square is a public meeting place.
A vast majority of Parisian squares are found at the intersection of streets, avenues or boulevards.
In Paris, we can find different types of squares:
Cathedral or church squares
The French also call them “parvis”.
Example: Place du Parvis Notre-Dame.
On numerous occasions, the square does not take the name of the church and was named after an important Parisian figure: Place d’Estienne d’Orves (Sainte-Trinité church), Place Franz Liszt (Saint Vincent de Paul church), and Place Victor et Hélène Basch (Saint-Pierre de Montrouge).
However there are notable exceptions with Place Saint-Sulpice, Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Place Saint-Augustin.
The main purpose of market squares is to serve as a trading place.
In Provincial France, many towns and villages have their own “Place du marché” where market stalls are traditionally set out for trading.
Paris Example: Place du Marché Saint-Honoré (1st arrondissement).
These are open areas used for community gatherings. At the centre of the square is often a monument, a statue or other feature.
Example: Place d’Iéna, Place du Trocadéro et du 11 novembre.
This type of square is very similar to a town square.
They are many fountain squares in Paris, such as Place Saint-Michel or Place Félix Eboué.
The architects of these monumental squares worked in glorifying the French monarch.
In addition there are 525 squares in Paris, including two placettes (two small squares).
It is interesting to note that “un square” has a different meaning in French. It corresponds to a garden square in English. They were mostly created by Baron Haussmann in the 19th century such as square du Temple.
The list below is only a personal suggestion. There are much more squares you might want to add to it if you’ve been to Paris before. Feel free to leave a comment at the end of this post with your favourite Parisian squares!
1. Place de la Concorde
The majestic Place de la Concorde is arguably the most prestigious square in Paris. I would just stand there for ages marvelling at the amazing fountains and delicate lamp posts.
In fact Place de la Concorde played an important part in French history. It dates back to the 18th century when it took the name of Place Louis XV.
On many occasions since its creation, the square has been the place chosen for happy or sad national gatherings. Place de la Concorde also plays a great symbolic part along the Historical Axis.
Paris’ oldest monument
You can’t miss the monument ideally placed in the middle of the square: the Luxor Obelisk. The Egyptian needle is 3,500 years old, which makes it the oldest monument standing in Paris. It is 23 metres tall and weighs 220 tons.
Read more about Place de la Concorde.
2. Place des Vosges
This excellent example of Louis XIII-style architecture is the oldest planned square in Paris.
Why do I like it so much? I guess its charm comes from the regularity of the façades which show alternate in-lays in brick and stone. Indeed this is a perfect symmetrical square bordered by the façades of 36 buildings.
Besides, the original name of the square being “Place Royale”, what do the Vosges mountains have to do with it?
Well, the newly-created département of the Vosges was the first département of France to pay taxes during the Revolution.
Read more about Place des Vosges.
3. Place Dauphine
The square, named after Dauphin of France, the future Louis XIII, was laid out in 1609 under King Henri IV while the Place des Vosges was still under construction.
During the 17th century, Place Dauphine and Place des Vosges represented the places where the French royal court used to have their permanent seat.
Today the square is a remarkable haven of peace despite its location in the heart of Paris!
Read more Place Dauphine.
4. Place Vendôme
The famous Place Vendôme in Paris’ first arrondissement ranks amongst France’s most beautiful squares.
Located to the north of the Tuileries Garden, it is a magnificent example of neoclassical architecture in France.
You may have heard that Place Vendôme is a mecca of money and luxury. Indeed, the square provides a base for renowned and prestigious establishments: the Ritz hotel, Cartier, Rolex, Chanel jewellery, as well as the Ministry of Justice.
The celebrated Column of Vendôme occupies the centre of the square. At its top you’ll recognise Napoleon Bonaparte!
Read more Place Vendôme.
5. Place de l’Étoile
The Place de l’Étoile (since renamed “Place Charles de Gaulle”) is a symbolic place, with its configuration of 12 avenues radiating out from the Arc de Triomphe.
Each of these streets bears the names of illustrious French military leaders: Foch, Marceau, Hoche or Kléber…
In addition the round square is often considered to be the most challenging roundabout for motorists to drive around. I often crossed it while travelling by bus and it was sometimes a frightening experience ?
A star-like shape!
It was Baron Haussmann who approved the square’s design, the one that gave the square its particular star-like shape that we see today. The circular square, 120 metres in diameter, is the centre – the star – from where 12 avenues radiate out in a remarkable geometric pattern.
Read more the Arc de Triomphe.
6. Place de la Bastille
Place de la Bastille lies at the limits of the 4th, 11th and 12th arrondissements, East of the Marais District.
It is also the site of the infamous Bastille prison. The fortress was destroyed following the events of the “Storming of the Bastille” on the 14th July 1789.
In the centre of the square stands the 47 metre tall Colonne de Juillet (July Column). The monument commemorates the “Trois Glorieuses“, the three revolutionary days from 27th to 29th July 1830. On this occasion King Charles X was replaced by the “Monarchie de Juillet” of King Louis-Philippe.
On the site of the former Bastille railway station stands the monumental Bastille Opéra.
The square is often associated to political demonstrations which often run from and to Place de la République.
Read more about the Place de la Bastille.
7. Place de Furstemberg
The tiny Place de Furstemberg may not compare with the grand and large squares of Paris. Nevertheless its charm is undeniable.
You’ll find it near the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The square owes its name to the famous Prince de Furstenberg, William Egon of Fürstenberg (1629 – 1704). The German clergyman, who was bishop of Strasbourg, retired to the abbey of St-Germain-des-Prés where he died.
In fact, Place de Furstemberg is not technically a square but a street (Rue de Furstemberg) where a small roundabout has been created for traffic. Four pawlonias grow in its centre. Add to this elegant Parisian-style lamp posts and you’ll experience a certain romantic feel sometimes portrayed in movies.
Painter Eugène Delacroix used to live there and his former dwelling today houses the Delacroix Museum.
Read more about the Place de Furstemberg.
8. Place de la République
The historic Place de la République is one of Paris’ largest squares. It lies at the crossroads of the 3rd, 10th and 11th arrondissements.
We owe the present-day shape of the square to Baron Haussmann. The urban architect worked on an urban renovation of Paris during the Second Empire. From then dates the creation of grand and straight axis.
The name of the square honours the newly proclaimed Third Republic (1871-1940). In its centre stands the monumental bronze statue of Marianne (9.5 metre high) sculpted by brothers Léopold and Charles Morice and installed on the 14th July 1883. It depicts Marianne holding an olive branch in her right hand and the Human’s Right tablet on her left.
A renovated square in 2013
In June 2013, the Mayor of Paris unveiled the new renovated Place de la République after many years of work, which makes it the largest pedestrian square in the French capital.
9. Place de la Nation
The circular-shaped Place de la Nation is dedicated to French patriotism. The square looks like a great roundabout from where radiate twelve streets, evoking the Place de l’Étoile to the West. It lies to the East of Paris, in the 11th and 12th arrondissements.
Originally the square took the name of “Place du Trône” and at the Revolution, “Place du Trône Renversé“. Parisian authorities changed it to Place de la Nation on the 14th July 1880.
A monumental statue
A grand monument called “Le Triomphe de la République” stands in the centre of the roundabout. It is a bronze statue by Aimé-Jules Dalou (1899) personifying the French Republic riding a chariot pulled by two lions and looking towards Place de la Bastille.
10. Place de l’Hôtel de Ville
The Place de l’Hôtel de Ville borders the Paris City-Hall, a fine Renaissance style building rebuilt between 1873 and 1892.
On its northern side stands the department store of BHV (Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville). To the South, the square borders the quays of River Seine.
Before 1802, the public square was known as “Place de Grève“, where unemployed people meet to seek work. Today “faire la grève” (literally to stand on the Grève Square) means “to go on strike“.
From the square you can see the north side of Notre-Dame cathedral.
Other beautiful squares of Paris per arrondissement
There are other interesting squares in Paris worth mentioning:
- Place du Carrousel and the inverted pyramid
- The busy Place du Châtelet
- Place Joachim du Bellay
- and Place du Palais-Royal… without forgetting the nearby Place de Valois!
- Place de la Bourse
- Place des Victoires
- Place Louis Aragon (Ile Saint-Louis)
- Place Louis Lépine (Flower market)
- and Place du Parvis Notre-Dame
- Place de la Contrescarpe
- Place Alphonse-Laveran
- and Place du Panthéon
- Place de Breteuil
- Place de Fontenoy
- and Place Vauban
- Place de l’Alma
- Place Saint-Augustin
- Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées
- Place du 11 novembre 1918 (gare de l’Est)
- Place Léon Blum
- Place Félix Eboué
- Place de l’Abbé Georges Henocque
- Place d’Italie
- Place de Catalogne
- Place Denfert-Rochereau (with a replica of the Lion of Belfort)
- Place du Commerce
- Place Etienne Pernet
- and Place Violet
- Place d’Iéna
- Place du Trocadéro et du 11 novembre
- and Place Victor Hugo
- Place du Général Catroux
- Place du Maréchal Juin
- and Place des Ternes
- Place des Abbesses
- Place Blanche
- the little Place Emile Goudeau
- and Place du Tertre
- Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad
- Place de la Fontaine aux Lions
- Place Gambetta
- Place Saint-Blaise
What to do in Paris?
Here’s a list of great activities you can join while visiting Paris and region!
Beautiful squares of Paris: English-French Vocabulary
(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs
- arch = arc (m)
- cathedral = cathédrale (f)
- city-hall = hôtel de ville (m)
- church = église (f)
- monument = monument (m)
- palace = palais (m)
- Republic = République (f)
- roundabout = rond-point (m)
- square = place (f)
- statue = statue (f)
- street = rue (f)
- strike = grève (f)
- triumphal arch = arc de triomphe (m)
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