As someone who has lived in Europe for many years, I am no stranger to cloudy and rainy filled days. As such, when the sun comes out to play, I try to take full advantage and play along too. This week while in Paris, I decided to move a business meeting with my partners outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. The location for our impromptu business meeting – Place des Vosges located in the 4th arrondissement in Paris.
For those of you who are not familiar, Paris proper is in the shape of a giant circle. It is divided into 20 municipal districts, or arrondissements, starting with one in the center and spiraling out to 20 in a counter clockwise circle. Place des Vosges is located in the Marais, in between the 3rd and 4th districts. In case you were to ever get lost, there are placards and signs for most of the large monuments and historical sights that also tell you what arrondissement you are in. It makes navigating the streets of Paris quite tourist friendly.
Speaking of tourists, Place des Vosges has always been a very popular location for tourists in Paris, particularly Americans. The day of our meeting was no exception as we heard almost everyone speaking English in the park that day. Now a bit more about the location itself.
Place des Vosges is the oldest and first planned square in Paris and was commissioned in 1605 by Henry IV. The King ordered all 35 other buildings bordering the square to follow the same design. The result, an early example of urban planning and something completely advanced for its time, is a symmetrical square surrounded by buildings with red brick and white stone facades, steep slate roofs and dorm windows, all constructed over arcades.
In 1800 Napoleon changed the name of the square from ‘Place Royale’ to ‘Place des Vosges’ to show his gratitude towards the Vosges department, the first department in France to pay taxes. Many famous people have lived here at this square as well. Cardinal Richelieu and famous French writer Victor Hugo both lived here. Hugo wrote Les Misérables right here overlooking this square.
After we walked around the square, we sat down on the grass and had a business meeting out in the sunshine. While we talked strategy, families picnicked in the square and children played around the water fountain in the square. You could hear the sound of laughter everywhere as everyone was enjoying the beautiful weather.
At the conclusion of our meeting, we decided to head over to Café Hugo, right around the corner from Place des Vosges for some food and drink. Café Hugo is a local spot that has a bit of a “village” feel to it that serves good food and drink that is cheap by Parisian standards.
Yes, you can type into Wikipedia to learn about Place des Vosges or the arrondissements of Paris, however our goal here is to give you a sincere sense and feel for the atmosphere of each place that is featured on the blog. I hope you each get a chance to get out and enjoy the summer sunshine this weekend too, wherever you are in the world.