A great place to take a break from the crowds of central Paris.
Given its position, smack-bang in the middle of Paris, sharing the Île de la Cité with Notre Dame, Place Dauphine can be an amazingly quiet and peaceful place. It was built by Henry IV of France, the second of his great Parisian public squares after the Place des Vosges in Le Marais. All of the houses were complete by 1616. The vast majority have been renovated, made taller or otherwise significantly altered - only the two that flank the entrance leading onto the Pont Neuf retain their original appearance, offering a charm-soaked glimpse of the Paris of 400 years ago.
A Hidden Gem
There’s a good reason why Place Dauphine rarely seems crowded - it’s not the kind of place you would stumble across on a typical wander around Paris’ major sights. You need to head to the western tip of the Île de la Cité, and you’ll find it just before the Pont Neuf. Entering from here, you will immediately notice that it isn’t actually a square, but rather a triangle. In the centre is a lovely shady area where you can find old men playing petanque and young couples taking in the sun. Cars are a rarity here, and in their place pedestrians stroll at leisure beneath the new trees. These used to be magnificent old chestnuts, but sadly in 2009 they were all cut down after succumbing to a parasite.
The life of the square goes on though, and it’s a great place to come to rest your legs after a day’s sightseeing. There are plenty of cafes and wine bars to be found here, which put out little wooden tables and chairs when the weather is fine.
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