The Place Dauphine & Square du Vert-Galant – Hidden Gems of Paris
Dear readers, I know it might sound strange to want to escape Paris when there and it is certainly unusual to want to do that. The thing is when your sightseeing, walking for hours on end and navigating tourists in those highly touristy areas then a little break from it all is rather necessary especially in the hotter months of the year. In Paris it’s typically the grand parks like Jardin Luxembourg, Tuileries or Parc Monceau that locals and visitors escape to for a momentary respite but I can tell you from experience that there a couple of other hidden places in Paris where you can plonk yourself on a bench rest your tired legs for a bit and still be able to take in much of the splendour the city has to offer and feel as though you have your own personal slice of the city. On that note allow me to introduce the humble and discreetly elegant Place Dauphine – a delightful hidden gem of Paris conceived by none other than France’s beloved King Henri IV who intended this spot to be utilised as an enclosed playground for his pampered prince son Louis XIII. One can find this lovely spot that is in the shape of a triangle, lined with plush trees and attractive buildings, by walking along the Pont Neuf bridge that intercepts the western end or tip of the Ile de la Cite until you reach King Henri’s impressive equestrian metallic statue. Once at this point stroll pleasurably along the cobblestoned Rue Henri Robert that cuts through two red, historic brick buildings on the opposite side of the statue where you will enter from the narrowest end of the triangular place. Another entrance, if you’re heading west from Notre Dame and the Conciergerie, is to walk to the Palais de Justice – an impressive building that lines the base of the wider triangular end of the Place Dauphine. Having the Palais de Justice close by highly influences the standard and style of the cafes and restaurants situated in the Place Dauphine as the lawyers and judges who work there expect fine quality cuisine when taking their lunches or after work apperatifs. As a result you can expect to enjoy a fine quality coffee, glass of wine and gourmet or more authentically casual French fare when taking a break at the lovely Place Dauphine. Here every café overlooks the central sandy courtyard where you can delight in watching locals at play taking their pampered pooches for a walk, children playing or the elderly local gentlemen engaging in a game of boule. After your meal or just a coffee break take the time to sit on a bench and read a book or just gaze up at the trees and buildings and imagine how wonderful it would be if you lived in Paris and had your own beautiful apartment right here. If that beautiful dream can’t be realised then the next best thing would be to book an apartment to stay in while your in Paris in the Place Dauphine and a good site to visit for more information and bookings would be parisperfect.com that offer stunning and charming quintessential Parisian apartments all over Paris. Place Dauphine is such a lovely site rich with history, old world charm and beauty that it’s not a surprise it has featured in many films including Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris. Read more about the sites and locations featured in the movie in my blog post titled Midnight In Paris Footsteps in the travels to France category.
Next, we head to the tip of the Ile de la Cite for another delightful and romantic Parisian momentary escape only steps away from the Place Dauphine called Square du Vert Gallant. To locate this mysterious garden, head back to King Henri’s equestrian statue where you’ll spot a small opening on the Pont Neuf in front of the statue where a centuries old stone staircase will take you down and into the garden. Once you’re at the bottom of the staircase glance up at the bridge where from this vantage point you can se the countless stone heads that decorate the bridge rumoured to be the heads of the men married to King Henri’s many lovers. This garden oasis at the tip of the island is small but filled with charm and dramatic views of the quays and buildings on either side with the Pont Des Arts bridge and a part of the Louvre which can be seen from the distance. The peculiar name of the square was inspired by our favourite King Henri IV who was quite the ladies man and who enjoyed the company of his countless mistresses who he would bring to this garden for some uninterrupted romantic time away from the eyes of his very jealous queen Marie de’ Medici. Parisians seem to enjoy continuing in King Henri’s tradition and as a result here is where you will see lovers cuddling on the park benches that line the square and where couples can be seen having a picnic or strolling hand in hand along the narrow, cobblestoned footpath that encircles the park and connects to the broader quai. This ancient footpath is the island’s lowest point where more couples or visitors to Paris can be seen sitting on the edge of the path, with their legs dangling down and their feet practically touching the Seine, drinking wine and eating cheese while watching the river cruise boats sail by. Here is where you can sit for hours enjoying the cool breeze provided by the impressive variety of leafy trees that line the garden and to gaze at the river and locals who come here with their dogs for a much needed respite from the busy streets and boulevards above. Coming to the Square du Vert Gallant is a must and especially make the time to have a picnic on the grass or by the edge of the water or to read a book under the shade of the enchanting old Willow tree that stands gracefully at the tip of the garden with a bag of croissants to enjoy as you look out onto the spectacular view. Here at the staircase end of the square you’ll notice a boat like structure where you can buy tickets and get onboard Paris’ popular Vedettes du Pont Neuf (1 Square du Vert Gallant) river cruise boats or have a glass of wine or beer and affordable meal at the maritime inspired little pub adjacent to the ticket office. For more information on the many cruises Vedettes has to offer visit vedettesdupontdeuf.com for more information – lunch and dinner cruises need to be booked in advance. Dear readers, are you entranced by Place Dauphine & Square du Vert Gallant of Paris, France?