Originally Place Royale, Place des Vosges is the oldest planned square in Paris and one of the finest in the city. It’s hidden in Le Marais - a colorful district famous for its narrow winding streets, sharp turns and vintage shops, among other things. It was a fashionable and expensive square to live in during the 17th and 18th centuries, and one of the central reasons Le Marais became so fashionable for the Parisian nobility.
The square was built by Henri IV and was finished in 1612. 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 moved to the Louvre Palace.
The Place des Vosges, inaugurated in 1612 with a grand carrousel to celebrate the engagement of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, is the prototype of all the residential squares of European cities that were to come.
Before the square was completed, Henri IV ordered the Place Dauphine to be laid out. Within a five-year period the king oversaw an unmatched building scheme for the ravaged medieval city: additions to the Louvre Palace, the Pont Neuf, and the Hôpital Saint Louis as well as the two royal squares.
Cardinal Richelieu had an equestrian bronze of Louis XIII erected in the center as there were no garden plots until 1680. In the late 18th century, while most of the nobility moved to the Faubourg Saint-Germain district, the square managed to keep some of its aristocratic owners until the Revolution. It was renamed in 1799 when the département of the Vosges became the first to pay taxes supporting a campaign of the Revolutionary army.
Today, the square's central part’s occupied by a fountain and the lanes leading up to it are framed by clipped bushes and trees. The foot of the renaissance buildings are crowded with gloomy shops selling accessories, jewelry and books - you should really make an effort in order to make out the objects displayed behind the glass.
If you take a turn at the street to the right, you’d enter into a real hidden courtyard which seems like taken out of an adventure’s video game. Or a fiction book (example of a writer).
You’d see these walls covered with (plant) and ruins of frescoes and (wall) that have been taken down from a building’s façade. The carved stone leans against what is now Hotel de Sully.