Place des Vosges – Paris’s oldest public square

What can you do at the Place des Vosges?

Place de Vosges is Paris’s oldest planned public square and a highlight of the effervescent Le Marais district. Once home to aristocrats and royal courtiers, it’s lined with elegant 17th and 18th-century houses. The square’s most famous resident was Victor Hugo, whose home and restored interior from the Victor Hugo Museum.

An oasis of calm in Le Marais, the square is a place to lauch an absorbing tour of the culturally layered neighborhood or wind one down with a picnic in the shadow of fine architecture. A short distance from compelling attractions, the singular public space is one of the Parisian treasures you’ll happily return to.

What is Place des Vosges?

Place des Vosges started life as Place Royale, a project commissioned by Henri IV and completed in 1612. Unique for the time, all the facades were nearly identical, except for raised royal pavilions. The red bricks and vaulted arches are still a defining feature today.

Fountain in Place des Vosges, Le Marais, Paris, France

Later in the 17th century, an enclosed garden was added. Green spaces and pretty fountains enriched the setting, providing a neatly manicured space for wealthy citizens to unwind. A hot ticket address for nobles and the upper classes until the late 18th century, the lure of more desirable neighborhoods and the French Revolution changed things.

The French Revolution opened the square to all, marking the change with a new name: Place des Vosges. The name honored the Vosges department that had financially supported the Revolutionary Army. In later years, the royal Restoration and revolutions saw the square change names back and forth. In the end, Place des Vosges stuck.

Although falling out of fashion, the square — one of five royal squares in Paris — still retained an aristocratic air. It was fashionable enough for the feted writer Victor Hugo, who lived there from 1832 to 1848. His home has been restored for visitors and is a compelling reason to visit Place des Vosges.

The square looks just as it did in the 17th century. Several celebrities reputedly have homes there, underlining its enduring appeal. Place des Vosges pivots many leading attractions in Le Marais, making it a charismatic waypoint for guided tours and tourists exploring the layered neighborhood.

Tickets and entrance to Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges may have started life as an enclosed space for the privileged. Today, it’s a free public space, complete with benches.

The permanent collection at Place des Vosge’s headline attraction, Maison Victor Hugo, is also free. Temporary exhibitions vary in price. The Victor Hugo Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm. It is closed on Mondays and public holidays.

Tours of Place des Vosges

Most popular

Le Marais walking tour

Charming bike tour

Tour through the Jewish district


A walking tour to all hidden points of interest is the introduction to the vibrant Le Marais neighborhood.

A sensory overload awaits as you pedal around numerous landmarks, including Petit Palais.

Passionate locals adapt, a whirlwind tour through some of Paris's headline destinations.


2,5 hours

4 hours

3 hours

Tours of Place des Vosges: The details

  1. 01

    Le Marais Walking Tour

    Walking Tour in 17. Arrondissement
    colorful street in the old town of Paris in le Marais
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    A walking tour with an expert local guide highlighting all the hidden points of interest is the ideal introduction to the vibrant Le Marais neighborhood.

    Victor Hugo’s home and Place des Vosges feature on a voyage through the ages. There is so much to learn and the guide will explain the whole thing in a funny and informing way.

  2. 02

    Charming nooks and crannies bike tour

    Bike Tour in Paris
    Le Marais streets in paris
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    A great way to soak up Le Marais’s inimitable charms is on two wheels. Pedal power gets you to more neighborhood secrets, and this one crosses several remarkable quartiers into one pulse-pumping ride.

    Place des Vosges is among a long list of famous landmarks on this tour, which are all charming in their own way. This guided biketour will make you fall in love easily with these beautiful districts of Paris.

  3. 03

    Explore the beautiful Jewish Quartier

    Walking Tour in 17. Arrondissement
    facade of old building in Marais district
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    A walking tour with sparkling reviews that navigates Le Marais’s historical and contemporary personalities. Guides to shine a light on the history of Place des Vosges and the Jewish Quarter in an absorbing route through the district.

    This guided tour is perfect for everyone who is interested in not only the history of Paris, but also in the culture of the capital in past and nowadays.

The oldest planned square in Paris is among the most charismatic public spaces in the city

Highlights of Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges owes its storied legacy to the architecture commissioned by Henri IV to mark the wedding of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. With striking architecture and manicured lawns, the square is a magnet for curious visitors and locals looking to relax.

The leading destination on the square is the former home of Victor Hugo. His residence for 16 years, Maison de Victor Hugo, is owned and operated by the city. Permanent exhibitions are free. Inside, Maison de Victor Hugo is an odd mix of restored interiors and artifacts from his other homes, including the bed he died in many years after leaving Le Marais. With so many personal items, it is a fascinating snapshot of the period and France’s most celebrated icon.

History buffs will enjoy checking off famous names who once lived in the square. Cardinal Richelieu of Three Musketeers fame lived at No.21 from 1615-1627. Henri IV’s favorite minister, Sully, also lived on the square. A stroll under the arches that line the square follows in their footsteps, but offers the modern pleasure of boutique window shopping. A couple of traditional French restaurants with terraces can also be found.

Stop for lunch before heading out of the grand arches north and south to adventures bubbling beyond the enclosed square. Before leaving, look for the Equestrian statue of Louis XIII, a marble replica of a bronze installed by Cardinal Richelieu and destroyed during the French Revolution.

Tips for visiting Place des Vosges

Go prepared to make the most of your time in Place des Vosges. Our top tips are:

  • Grab sugary sustenance to nibble in the gardens at the pricey yet delicious Carette pâtisserie on the square. The terrace outside is a delightful spot for a coffee, although several other decent eateries are available.
  • Bring a blanket to sit on. Garden benches fill up quickly.
  • Aim to arrive via the grand triple arches on the north and south side. You can also enter through the corners of the square, but it’s far less impressive.

Is Place des Vosges worth visiting?

Place des Vosges is a magnificent public square lined with elegant homes. It is an unmissable stop when touring the unmissable Le Maris neighborhood. You don’t have to stay long, but the inviting gardens and a handful of eateries elevate it above other public spaces in Paris.

Historic facts about Place des Vosges

The most striking fact about Place des Vosges is that the royal square was built for a monarch, yet no French kings ever lived there. Perhaps it was not fated to be. Henri IV, who commissioned the project, was assassinated two years before completion. Forebodingly, the square was built where the old L’hôtel des Tournelles once stood. The Tournelles Hotel was a sprawling royal residence where kings spent more time dying than living. Louis XII and then Henri II both passed away there, the latter stabbed in the eye with a spear.

The only French king to spend time in the newly built Place des Vosges appeared as an equestrian bronze of Louis XIII. Erected by Cardinal Richelieu, it did not survive the French Revolution. Installed in its place is a marble replica from 1825, the Equestrian statue of Louis XIII. Although no kings lived in the square, one monarch did lay their crown there and called it home. Anne of Austria briefly settled in the Queen’s pavilion before becoming Louis XIII’s queen.

The former Place Royale lost a name and a bronze statue during the French Revolution. The new title honored the Vosges département as the first region outside Paris to send money for the Revolutionary Army. Revolutions and royal restorations followed, a boon for sign makers, with the name constantly changing until the Paris Commune of 1871 settled things.

The revolutionaries might have had a point. When the gardens were first created and enclosed in 1670, access was closed to gens mal vêtus, poorly dressed people. Thankfully, the only worry nowadays is whether to take an umbrella for Paris’s notoriously unpredictable weather.

What to do after visiting Place des Vosges

There is a wealth of options within walking distance of Place des Vosges. Head northeast to the personal collection of Picasso at the National Picasso museum. Even closer is the fascinating Carnavalet Museum, dedicated to Parisian history. Free to enter and hosting an eclectic collection spread over two handsome Hôtel Particulier, it’s an offbeat attraction worthy of any itinerary.

Illustrating the embarrassment of cultural riches near Place des Vosges, the Cognacq-Jay museum is another gem. An intimate and sumptuous art exhibition in the home of wealthy philanthropists.

The big draw is the neighborhood itself. Le Marais bubbles with energy, from the LGBT+ bars to the colorful and historic Jewish Quarter. A trip to Rue des Rosiers is essential, especially if you like good food (falafels from L’As du Fallafel and the deli sandwiches at Florence Kahn stand out).


What can you do at Place des Vosges?

The public square is a charming green space to pause and unwind when visiting Le Marais. Add in a visit to the Victor Hugo museum or dine on terraces overlooking the square to appreciate the architecture and history of the former royal refuge.

What is the nearest Métro stop for Place des Vosges?

The nearest Métro stations for Place des Vosges are:

  • Chemin Vert (Line 8)
  • Bastille (Lines 1, 5 , 8.)

How long can you spend at Place des Vosges?

Walk through and appreciate the architecture and history seeping out of the brickwork. If you include time to stroll through the arches and into the central gardens, you can spend up to an hour exploring. With the option to visit the Victor Hugo home, dine on restaurant terraces, or relax on the lawns, many visitors linger.

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About the author

I am an absolute travel enthusiast with a great love for the USA, Spain and Italy. And England. And France. You can find lots of travel inspiration from me regularly on our YouTube-channel .

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