Paris Day 13: The Perfect SQUARE of Henry IV’s Place des Vosges and Connecting with Facebook Friends

Paris fun with our new friendsOne of the BEST days of our trip was meeting up with my Facebook friend and his wife – Philippe and “Dom” – French grace and hospitality defined!  We had a wonderful evening and shared stories, laughter, wine and a suptuous meal.  But before we get to that, I will tell you about our day at Place des Vosges.

The Place des Vosges located in the Marais area of ParisPlace des Vosges was built by Henry IV from 1605 to 1612, originally known as Place Royale.  A true square (140 m x 140 m), it embodied the first European program of royal city planning. It was built on the site of the Hôtel des Tournelles and its gardens: at a tournament at the Tournelles, a royal residence, Henri II was wounded and died. Catherine de Medicis had the Gothic complex demolished, and she removed to the Louvre.

The Place des Vosges, inaugurated in 1612 with a grand carrousel to celebrate the wedding of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, is the prototype of all the residential squares of European cities that were to come. What was new about the Place Royale in 1612 was that the housefronts were all built to the same design, probably by Baptiste du Cerceau,[1] of red brick with strips of stone quoins over vaulted arcades that stand on square pillars. The steeply-pitched blue slate roofs are pierced with discreet small-paned dormers above the pedimented dormers that stand upon the cornices. Only the north range was built with the vaulted ceilings that the “galleries” were meant to have. Two pavilions that rise higher than the unified roofline of the square center the north and south faces and offer access to the square through triple arches. Though they are designated the Pavilion of the King and of the Queen, no royal personage has ever lived in the aristocratic square. The Place des Vosges initiated subsequent developments of Paris that created a suitable urban background for the French aristocracy.  Read more at Place des Vosges.

Antique stores along the street in the MaraisWe walked from our apartment in the Latin Quarter to Place des Vosges and were delighted to come across the amazing variety of boutiques and galleries in the Marais area of Paris.  It was a lovely day for photos, the skies were a vibrant cobalt blue with amazing clouds!  Judith and I bumped into an antique dealer “Raphael” who told us stories of his discoveries of treasures in antiques.  I’m not kidding, in one story, he tells us how he “found” two hidden drawers in an armoire full of gold from the 15th century!  If that doesn’t make you want to go shopping for antiquities I don’t know what will!  By the way, Parisian’s love their vintage shops and of course antique shops are plentiful here.  But Judith and I have been particularly surprised at the number of vintage clothing stores we have seen.  They are all very cool and always packed with people of all ages looking for those hip items from the 60-70’s!

The Arc de Triomphe as seen coming up from the Metro at Charles de GaulleOur walk took us along the Seine, through the Marais area on ancient cobble stoned streets and finally to the Place des Vosges. We saw some of the oldest areas of Paris, amazing architecture, beautiful people, lots of bikes, and amazing treasures to be had!  After our visit to this area we headed back to the apartment to get ready for dinner with our new friends.  We hopped on the Metro and got off at the Charles de Gaulle stop that is right at the Arc de Triomphe – it is a beautiful sight when you come up the escalator from the Metro to the street and see this treasure.

We catch a cab along the Avenue des ChampsÉlysées to head to the outer area of Paris (suburbs?) to meet our friends.  We were greeted graciously with smiles and kisses as we were invited into their lovely Parisian apartment.  Upon sitting down and Dom opening a lovely bottle of bubbly, we immediately felt like we had known each other for years!The bubbly - delicious!

We had a lovely dinner and spoke of family, life, business, and art, we swapped stories and laughed until we cried just over the smallest things.  There was true joy in this home and in these lovely people.  I have told the story in a previous post but I will tell you again how I met Philippe.

When Judith and I were in Paris last year we met Alex (who we will be blogging about on Day 14).  Alex and I had a connection with music so we stayed in touch via FACEBOOK over the last year, during which time Philippe (a friend of Alex’s) saw my posts on Alex’s FB page and friended me.  The rest is history and I am looking forward to a long friendship with all!

Our dear Parisian friend

Philippe, Dom, Judith and I have many things in common and will be working together on a project with Alex and his band that I am very excited about. I am looking  forward to getting with Philippe and Dom more during the rest of my stay.  I feel like I have found a family in Paris…Philippe even calls me his new sister!

For now, I have to go throw on some makeup and get out to do some shopping with sister.  Judith’s time is winding down here with me and I am sad about that, but thankful for the experience we have been able to have AGAIN in this fabulous city of lights.  You will be hearing about our secret project tomorrow.  We are ready to unveil it at last so stay tuned!

Love and Peace

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