The parisian squares

La Place Dauphine (Métro Pont neuf, Châtelet)

Created in honour of the future King Louis XIII, the dauphin Louis, this was the second royal square constructed in the 17th century, after the Place des Vosges




La Place de la Bastille (Métro : Bastille)

The events of 1789 conferred upon this place its symbolic and mythical name (symbolic, for example, in that the routes followed by trade union marches go from Bastille to République and Nation). On 14 July of that year, 600 rioters from Faubourg Saint-Antoine stormed the fortress and forced this armoury and symbol of royal power into capitulation.

In front of n° 49 on Avenue Henri IV, the paving stones are laid to indicate the positions of three of the eight round towers that were constructed in 1370. Napoléon I installed a 24m tall plaster model of an elephant, which was to become a fountain. In 1830, it was decided to erect the July Column to the memory of the victims of the “Three Glorious Days”, the revolution that brought Louis-Philippe to power. Two funeral tombs are situated below the bronze column, inspired by the Columna Trajani in Rome.

Mounted atop the column stands the Génie de la Liberté, breaking his chains and launching into flight, with the flame of civilisation in his hand. This corner of Paris provided the background for the Cédric Klapisch film, Chacun cherche son chat.


La Place de Catalogne

On either side of Ricardo Bofill’s neo-classical structure rise two round buildings, designed by Maurice Novarina and built in 1988. In the centre of the square Shamaï Haber’s fountain is an enormous inclined granite disk overrun by a stream of water


La Place de la Concorde (Métro : Concorde)

In 1763, local magistrates in Bouchardon, who wished to join the court of Louis XV, ordered a statue of the king on horseback and announced a competition for the decoration of the square. An architect called Gabriel won the competition with his octagonal design.

The equestrian statue was installed and the square took its name. It was removed, however, in 1792 and the square renamed Place de la Révolution. On 21 January 1793 Louis XVI was guillotined there and the scaffolding was subsequently dressed several times for the fall of various famous heads. The square was decorated by Hittorff, commissioned by Louis Philippe. Statues of French cities were erected around the square, as well as two large fountains and the obelisk of Luxor. The obelisk, measuring 23 metres tall and weighing over 220 tonnes, was presented to Charles X by Mohammed Ali, viceroy of Egypt, in 1829, although not actually erected until 1836. The obelisk comes from the ruins of the temple of Ramises II (from the 13th century BC) and is covered with hieroglyphs relating the exploits of the pharaoh.


La Place de la Nation (Métro : Nation)

The current Place de la Nation was originally named Place du Trône on 26 August 1660: a throne was built there on the occasion of Louis XIV’s arrival in Paris with his new bride, Marie-Thérèse of Austria.





A century later, the square became place du Trône-Renversé (Place of the Toppled Throne) during the revolution, but regained its original name in 1805. The circular place played host to the guillotine from 14 June to 27 July 1794 and became place de la Nation on 14 July 1880, on the occasion of the first national holiday.

The bronze statue, dating from 1899, is called Triomphe de la République: it depicts the Genie of Liberty, flame in hand, driving the chariot of universal suffrage, pulled by two lions. The chariot is also helped along by Justice on the right and Labour on the left.


La Place de l'Etoile-Charles de Gaulle
(Métro : l'Etoile-Charles de Gaulle)

At the end of the 18th century, this area was still a village crossroads, forming a five pointed star among the surrounding lawns. In 1854, Hittorff had just transformed Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Elysées and Napoléon III now commissioned him to redesign this junction along the principles set forth by Haussmann.

Haussmann favoured a wide open space, and this was achieved by adding a further seven branches to the star. He did not want shop fronts to appear on the square, and the 12 hotels created by Hittorff around the place had to have their gardens on the square and their entrances on the adjacent streets. As a result, today the place is principally used by motorists.


La Place de l'hôtel de Ville (Métro : Hôtel de Ville)


Until 1141, there was nothing more here than a long stony riverbank, then river merchants created the port de Grève (Shore Harbour) to relieve Paris's busy port. The first municipal authority was established there in 1357, dominated still by the river merchants. The little square consequently became the site for the celebrations as well as the revolts of the people of Paris, as indeed were public executions performed there from the 12th century until 1830. It was in 1830 that the place took its current name, and it was the works of Haussmann that gave it the grandeur and allure that it possesses today.
The square was closed off to traffic in 1982 and today it receives Parisians for a variety of events and festivities, for example; the annual winter festival, when a public ice-rink is installed on the square. (tel. 01 42 76 43 43, open 10.00 - 22.00).

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