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City Secrets: 10 of Paris’s charming, smaller, more unknown “places”

The city of Paris boasts just about 500 places, or squares, throughout its mazes of streets, avenues, and boulevards.  Unlike the historic place de la Concorde, place de l’Étoile, place de la Bastille, or place de la République, however, these smaller, more unknown squares, are the perfect spot to relax under the shade of a tree or have a coffee at a terrace café.  From Saint-Germain-des-Prés to Montmartre, through the Marais and the sloping streets of the 9th, discover ten of the capital’s most beautiful hidden squares.


Place Dauphine (1st arrondissement)

It’s one of the most romantic squares in Paris, and yet many visitors stroll through Île de la Cité without ever walking through it. Created at the request of King Henry IV, who named it after his successor, or dauphin, Louis XIII, Place Dauphine is just a few steps from the Pont Neuf, shaded by the Conciergerie and Sainte-Chapelle.  Triangularly shaped, which earned it the nickname “le sexe de Paris” by French surrealist author André Breton, it is home to a few cafés, art galleries, and metalware galleries, and in the summer, plays host to wild games of pétanque on its central median.


Place des Petits-Pères (2nd arrondissement)

The former courtyard of the couvent des Augustins (convent of the Augustinians), who were called the Petits Pères (Little Fathers), this small square, nestled behind the majestic Place des Victoires, is a quiet corner of serenity right in the heart of Paris. The neighboring Notre-Dame-des-Victoires basilica, built at the beginning of the 17th century by Louis XIII, is a reminder of the neighborhood’s very Catholic past. Around the square, there is still a shop selling religious items and a few decor and flower shops, as well as a bakery café, Le Moulin de la Vierge, an ideal place to enjoy the sunshine just a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of Les Halles and rue Etienne Marcel. Don’t forget to check out neighboring Galerie Vivienne, one of the most beautiful covered passages in Paris.


Place du marché Sainte-Catherine (4th arrondissement)

Established on the site of the former Sainte-Catherine-du-Val-des-Écoliers convent, this pretty square in the Marais was a marketplace during the reign of Louis XV. Just a few hundred meters from the famous Place des Vosges and the rue des Francs-Bourgeois shopping street, la place du marché Sainte-Catherine, which is entirely pedestrianized, is nowadays the home of several restaurant terraces. With cobblestones and white Chinese mulberry trees planted in the center, the place du marché Sainte-Catherine is a calming breath of fresh air in the heart of the bustling Marais.


Place de Furstemberg (6th arrondissement)

Neighboring the Saint-Germain-des-Prés abbey, the square-shaped Place de Furstemberg is a hidden treasure in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood.  Once the courtyard of a stable, today it is one of the most romantic squares in Paris, especially at nightfall when passers-by are few and the lamp post on the central median is lit. Taken by the beauty of this square, painter Eugène Delacroix took up residence at No. 6 in 1857, while Claude Monet and Frédéric Bazille had studios on the upper floor. The building has since been converted into a museum celebrating the Romantic painter.


Place Edouard VII (9th arrondissement)

Created in 1912, this square, named after King Edward VII of England, son of Queen Victoria, is hidden along a small intersection of pedestrian streets off of Boulevard des Capucines in the lively Opéra district. In the middle of this circular space lies an imposing statue of the sovereign king on horseback, renowned for having pacified relations between the United Kingdom and France by supporting the Entente Cordiale, signed between the two countries in 1904. Since 1916, the place has also been home to the Edouard VII theater, popularized by Sacha Guitry’s play Je t’aime.


Place Saint-Georges (9th arrondissement)

In the historic heart of the 9th arrondissement, known as “the New Athens” due to its many neo-classical buildings, lies the charming place St. Georges. Surrounded by sumptuous private mansions, including that of the courtesan La Païva, as well as the former residence of President Adolphe Thiers, this square is an idyllic setting for a small break on your way up to Pigalle from Grands Boulevards.  Sheltered away from the hustle and bustle of the lively Rue des Martyrs, place Saint-Georges boasts a statue paying homage to Paul Gavarni, French illustrator and cartoonist, and the Carnaval de Paris that he loved so much.


Place Gustave-Toudouze (IXth district)

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Nestled at the foot of the Montmartre hill, at the crossroads of rue Clauzel and rue Monnier, is Place Gustave-Toudouze, named after the 19th century writer and journalist close to Gustave Flaubert and Guy de Maupassant.  Bordered by several large café and restaurant terraces, with its Wallace fountain, traditional Parisian newsstand, and wooden benches, this quaint square almost feels like a sort of idyllic, provincial Paris. Among the many emblematic restaurants found within the square, Kastoori serves classic Indian cuisine in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.


Place Sainte-Marthe (10th arrondissement)

Wedged between rue Saint-Maur and boulevard de la Villette, place Sainte-Marthe was once part of one of the oldest working class housing developments in the capital.  Today, this little village tucked away in the 10th is home to a colorful and cosmopolitan mix of artists’ studios, art galleries, delis, and restaurants from the four corners of the world.  Emanating a friendly neighborhood feel, regulars and locals alike often gather on the terrace of the bar La Sardine to make the most of long summer nights.


Place Charles Dullin (18th arrondissement)

Nestled between rue d’Orsel and boulevard de Clignancourt, on the slopes of Montmartre, Place Charles Dullin is a nice and shady square that offers a little peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of Pigalle and Barbès. Initially named Place du Théâtre, it was renamed in 1957 after actor and director Charles Dullin, who ran the neighboring Théâtre de l’Atelier from 1922 to 1940. Listed as a historic monument since 1965, it is one of the few 19th century theaters in Paris that is still in operation today.


Place de la Réunion (20th arrondissement)

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[Revue de presse] On est loin de l’Océan indien… et pourtant cela n’empêche pas le quartier de la Réunion d’être désigné comme l’un des plus cools du moment par The Guardian. Publié ce week-end, l’article liste 10 lieux authentiques à l’écart des touristes, pour prendre le pouls de grandes villes européennes. Prénommé de la sorte, car il réunit le petit et le grand Charonne, autrefois séparés par un mur, “c’est un quartier populaire, multiculturel, bohème et convivial”, avec une place circulaire qui s’anime lors du marché les jeudi et dimanche matin. Parmi les bonnes adresses recommandées par le journal britannique : le café sans nom, le torréfacteur L’Escargot d’or, le caviste @Aubonvingt, le concept store @Laboticaparis, les restaurants @quartier_rouge, La Petite Fabrique, Les Mondes Bohèmes, le Moki bar, ou encore l'@hotelterreneuve ou le Mama Shelter. . 📸 @manureze, puis @nicolaslouisHenri #QuartierDeLaReunion #LaReunionParis #PlacedelaReunion #MamaShelterParis #LaPetiteFabriquerestaurant #LesMondesBohèmes #Paris20 #Paris20e #Paris20e #Paris20ème #Paris20eme #20èmearrondissement #20earrondissement #75020 #20eme #le20eme #MonPetit20e #Parismaville #Parisjetaime #ParisVillage #ParisQuartiers #parisphoto #parismonamour.

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The Guardian describes the cosmopolitan La Réunion neighborhood, which extends out from the square of the same name, as a “warm, bohemian, working class neighborhood” and “a multicultural area of active families, artists, and musicians”. Located in the village of Charonne in the 20th, it was ranked by the British daily newspaper as one of the 10 “coolest neighborhoods in Europe”. Surrounded by peaceful, charming alleyways, la Place de La Réunion also hosts a lively market every Thursday and Sunday.





Featured image: Celette / CC BY-SA

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