In the first arrondissement of Paris, there are many historical and architectural sights worthy of special attention. Among them is the Place Dauphine, which is located on the island of Cité. Despite the fact that little has survived from its original historical appearance, a charming atmosphere of antiquity still exudes from this triangular square.
What to see
The beautiful architectural ensemble, designed during the time of Henry IV, was subjected to multiple restructuring and changes, which began in the 17th century. Until our time, only two houses have survived in their original form. Perhaps this was facilitated by the fact that a statue of the monarch was installed near them, who looks at the square laid by him. However, despite the changes, the area still looks charming.
Parisians and guests of the French capital are attracted by the Dauphine square with its tranquility and comfort. As before, many cafes and restaurants serve excellent French cuisine, and after a delicious meal, Parisians love to play petanque, an ancient game of bowls. The closedness of the square hides the noise of the modern metropolis, and you can imagine for a moment that you are transported to the past.
The history of the square
During the reign of Henry IV, the appearance of Paris changed for the better in many ways. Inspired by the ideas of the Renaissance, the monarch ordered the creation of several large squares in the city, surrounded by buildings in the same style. The innovations became a gem in the French capital and quickly gained popularity among Parisians. One of these gems of the city is the Dauphin Square. It was founded in 1607, and the best royal architects were involved in its creation.
The square owes its name to a dolphin - the dauphin. This is how the heir to the throne was called in France, and initially the Dauphin square was dedicated to the future King Louis XIII.
A non-standard architectural solution was chosen for the square. It was located in a triangle, surrounded on all sides by an ensemble of three-story houses. Commercial premises were located on the lower arcades of the buildings, and the upper floors were rented out. Proximity to the Louvre and the Cité palace complex, which acted as the royal administration, quickly made this place popular.
Many visiting diplomats rented rooms here, and taverns, hairdressers and other establishments were opened to serve them. And the Parisians themselves enjoyed visiting Dauphine Square, attracted by the cozy atmosphere of numerous shops and restaurants, as well as the harmony of the architectural ensemble. An important role in this was played by the fact that in 1604 the Pont Neuf was opened, which provided access to the square from both banks of the Seine.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the Place Dauphine became known as the center of French artistic life. At first, spontaneous exhibitions were held here, but soon venerable masters joined the young and unknown artists. Exhibition reports were published in a major art journal, and even academics sought to exhibit their work here. The most popular was the exhibition, which was held on the day of Christ's Body and Blood. The vernissage was held in the open air, and if the weather prevented it, it was postponed for 1 week. If the bad weather did not let up, the exhibition was postponed until next year.
Although officially the square belonged to the heir to the throne, a monument to the current monarch was originally erected on it. The equestrian statue of Henry IV stood until 1792, but the stormy historical events that were taking place in France at that time did not spare it - the statue was sent to be melted down. However, already in 1818, a new statue of Henry IV appeared, which adorns the square to this day.
In the 19th century the original triangular square was changed. On the east side, part of the buildings was removed to open a view of the constructed Palace of Justice. In our time, chestnut trees have been planted in their place, which partially restore the original closeness of the square and enliven its appearance a little.
Address: 75001 Paris, France
Place Dauphine is less than 5 minutes' walk from Pont Neuf metro station, line M7.