COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space
Case Studies 

Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

*Nominee 

Place Des Vosges

Paris

France

Contributed by 
Project for Public Spaces
 on 
January 7, 2002
December 14, 2017

Outdoor square bordered by 39 red brick buildings with ground-level arcades.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

With its four quadrants bisected by paths, the Place des Vosges is a simple, quiet space amidst a bustling Parisian neighborhood. Its success can be attributed to its integration with the adjacent buildings, whose ground floors are occupied by shops and cafes, and the arcades that are the site of market activity - much of the activity centers around shopping and dining in the nearby antique stores, book and record shops, and cafes. The area surrounding the Place is kept under strict zoning regulations by the local government to protect the look of the square, the oldest in Paris.

Access & Linkages

Comfort & Image

Uses & Activities

Sociability

How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

The streets were incredibly filthy, animals left their waste, respectable women would never be caught dead or alive in these streets. So this was the first time that someone had the idea of a public square where people could gather. --from Pariswalks, by Alison Landes & Sonia Landes

Built in the 17th century, Place des Vosges is the oldest square in Paris. It was constructed under Henry IV between 1605 and 1612 after Henry II was accidentally wounded in the eye by the lance of his captain of guards, during a tournament. After ten days of agony, he died and his widow, Catherine de' Medici, persuaded her son to demolish the Hotel Des Tournelles, where both Louis XI and Louis XII died.

The vacated space eventually became a horse market until the area was gradually taken over by aristocracy and became a favorite spot for French nobility. The square was probably designed by Baptiste du Cerceau and was renamed by Napoleon, after the first department to pay its taxes in 1800. It continues to be one of the most pleasant squares in Paris.

In the 1960s, the French government undertook a major restoration project in the Marais quarter that now stretches between the Beaubourg and the Bastille. Their efforts were obviously successful: This is now one of the hottest neighborhoods in Paris for shopping, dining and trendy living. The medieval streets make for fascinating strolling, and there's plenty of window shopping as well: Next door to Middle Eastern spice stores are haute couture boutiques, and cozy cafes edge up to antique emporiums. As the center of Paris's Jewish community, the Marais is also the site of synagogues, delicatessens and kosher butcher shops.

Related Links & Sources

Place Des Vosges
Place Des Vosges
Place Des Vosges
Place Des Vosges
Place Des Vosges
Place Des Vosges
Place Des Vosges
Place Des Vosges

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

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