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Place Jean Paul II & Notre Dame de Paris under snow

Top Places to visit in Paris: 10 iconic and picturesque squares

by stillinparis
Published: Last Updated on

Paris has a wealth of wonderful places to visit, but some features are so outstanding they deserve special mention. From magnificent places to picturesque squares and throught romantic narrow streets, discover the most unforgettable landmarks of Paris.

Place des Vosges, Parvis de Notre Dame, Place Vendôme, Place de contrescarpe…  Here are examples of squares not to miss in Paris.

Iconic Places to visit in Paris

Parvis de Notre Dame – Cité Island

Place Jean Paul II & Notre Dame de Paris under snow

Place Jean Paul II & Notre Dame de Paris under snow

People usually arrive at  Notre Dame Cathedral from the Place du Parvis .The Square houses the Cathedral at its center .This is a point from where all distances in France are measured – look ut for the plaque on the ground.

This square is another creation of Haussmann who cleared away the maze of medieval lanes and houses that previously occupied it. From this place, you can have a wonderful view on Notre Dame Cathedral,  a Gothic masterpiece that ranks as one of the world’s most magnificent religious buildings.


Eiffel Tower and Champs de Mars

Eiffel tower lights

Eiffel Tower

Of Course, the most famous place in Paris is the Eiffel Tower and the Champs de Mars esplanade, a grassy area whose name means Field of Mars (Mars was the Roman god of war). It was originally a parade ground .

Nowaday when the weather is good, young Parisians flock to the Champ de Mars to pic-nic . It’s also there that take place The National day Concert and firework Celebration.

Arc de Triomphe and Place de l’étoile

Place de l'Etoile -Charles de Gaulle - Paris

Place de L’etoile – Charles de Gaulle square- Paris

The vast place de l’étoile, officially renamed place Charle-de-Gaulle is the crossroads of 8th, 16th and 17th arrondissements, measuring 240m (790ft) in diameter, 12 avenues radiate away from it and it gives an extraordinary feeling of open space in a busy city.

The most famous attribute of the place is the Arc de Triomphe, built to commemorate the Napoleonic armies. This is now on of the symbols of Paris.

Place de l’Opera

Place Opera - Paris

Opera Garnier – Paris

The area around Opera Garnier make offer the ideal context for a stimulating stroll. In addition to following the Grands Boulevards, you could walk south along Rue de la Paix known for its jewellery shops, or head south-east along one-kilometer long avenue de l’Opera.

From this avenue  you can have a wonderful view to Opera Garnier, one of the most impressive monument in Paris erected during the second Empire.

Read more about Place de l’Opéra 

Place des Vosges

Place des Vosges - Marais - Paris

Place des Vosges -Paris – Marais

The Place des Vosges, inaugurated in 1612 as Place Royale, the oldest in Paris,  is a square ensemble of 36 symmetrical houses with ground-floor arcades, steep slate roofs and large dormer windows. Only the earliest houses were built of brick,  the rest were faced with plaster painted to look like brick.

Today, situated in the trendy Marais quarter,  the arcades around Place des Vosges are occupied by up-market art galleries, pricey antique shops and elegant places to sip tea.

Victor Hugo lived at 6 place des Vosges from 1832 to 1848. Maison de Victor Hugo is now a municipal museum .

Place Vendôme

Place Vendôme

Place Vendôme

Eight sided Place Vendôme and the arcaded and colonnaded buildings around it were built between 1687 and 1721.

Today the buildings around the square house posh Hotel Ritz and some of Paris’ most fashionable and luxury boutiques.

The 43.5 meters column now int the center of the square , Colonne Vendôme, consists of a stone core wrapped in 160-metre-long bronze spiral made from 1250 Austrian and Russian canons captured by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz (1805).


Picturesque squares to visit in Paris

Place de la Contrescarpe

Mouffertard and Latin Quarter restaurants and bars

Contrescape square – Latin quarter Paris

A lively and picturesque little traffic round about surrounded by cafés, shops and students in the lively Latin Quarter. James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway were once locals. It’s now one of the prettiest squares in Paris. All the houses have been restored. Have a drink at La Chope, on the terrace. Rabelais and his friends came to chew the fat and to talk about the finer points of the French language.

Don’t miss the nearby  Mouffetard market one of the oldest and liveliest food markets in Paris.

Place Dauphine

Place Dauphine Paris

Beautiful Place Dauphine Paris

This Place is located in the Island “Ile de la Cité”. This peaceful square, located very closed to famous attractions like Saint-Michel, Notre Dame and le Pont Neuf, is one of the most romantic place in Paris. It is also considered  as one of the most beautiful square in Paris.

Place du Tertre – Montmartre

Place du Tertre at Montmartre Paris

Place du Tertre at Montmartre Paris

Half a block west of the Eglise Saint Pierre de Montmartre, parts of which date from 12th century as it’s only building left from the Benedictine Abbey of Montmartre is Place du Tertre, once main square of the village of Montmartre. These days, it’s filled with cafés, restaurants, portrait artists and tourists and is always animated. Look for the two windmills to the west on rue Lepic

Read more about Places to visit in Montmartre.


Place de la Concorde

Impressive Concorde Square Paris

Impressive Concorde Square Paris

Place de la Concorde was laid out between 1755 and 1775. The 3000 year old pink granite obelisk in the middle was “given” to France in 1831 . It once stood in the Temple of Ramses at Thebes (Luxor).

Eight statues of feminine forms adoring the four Corners of the square represent France’s largest cities. During the French revolution, it is the place where that many people were beheaded ( Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Robespierre, Danton…).

At the north side of the Place is located the Hotel de Crillon, one of Paris’ most famous luxurious hotels. In 1778, the treaty by which France  recognized the independence of the USA was signed  in the Hotel de Crillon.

Place de Furstenberg -Saint Germain des Près

A stroll along the streets between Eglise Saint Germain des Près and the Institut de France is a good way to get a feel fro the area, and Place Furstemberg, a lovely shaded square near the Eglise Saint Germain Church . It’s a summertime venue for groups of musicians who jam on the center. It’s one of the most picturesque square of the Saint-Germain des Près neighborhood.


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