Paris is known for its majestic squares, often adorned with tall monuments at the center and lined with grand buildings. The city’s most famous squares, including the Place de la Concorde and Place des Vosges, are located in the historic center.
Below is an overview of some of the most famous and/or interesting public squares in Paris, listed in alphabetical order.
Until the death of former president Charles de Gaulle this square was aptly named l’Etoile (star) as twelve avenues radiate from the square, often resulting in traffic chaos. At the center is the Arc de Triomphe, which can be accessed via an underground tunnel. One of the streets leading to the square is the famous Champs-Elysées.
The Place Dauphine is a quiet public square which, despite being located on the Île de la Cité near famous landmarks such as the Pont Neuf, Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame, has kept a low-key character. The triangular shaped square was laid out in the early 17th century and is one of the oldest in Paris.
Tiny Place de Furstenberg, in the attractive Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter, is one of the most romantic squares in Paris. Eugène Delacroix lived in an apartment at the Place de Furstenberg until his death in 1863. His apartment is now home to the Musée Delacroix, a museum dedicated to the artist.
This square in front of the city hall was originally named Place de Grève, roughly translatable as ‘sandy beach square’. It was renamed in 1830 to Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, for the city hall that dominates the square. Once the site of public executions, the pedestrianized square now regularly hosts events; depending on the time of the year you can find an ice rink or even a volleyball beach.
Nothing is left of the bastille fortress after which the square is named. Originally built to protect Paris and later turned into a prison, it was destroyed during the French Revolution. The column at the center of the square commemorates another revolution in 1830.
This historic square, Paris’s largest, was originally named Place Louis XV. It was renamed place de la Révolution during the revolution when more than thousand people died here under the guillotine. In 1830 it was named Place de la Concorde. The obelisk at the center is a 19th century gift from Egypt’s Viceroy.
The Place de la Nation is a large, circular square in the east part of Paris. Wide traffic heavy streets divide the square into a series of traffic islands. In the middle of the central traffic circle stands ‘The Triumph of the Republic’, a large bronze monument that was erected here to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution.
At the center of this large nineteenth century square is a monumental statue honoring the French Republic. The pedestrianized square is the traditional starting point for demonstrations in Paris.
The Place Denfert-Rochereau is named after a French colonel who fought during the French-Prussian war in 1870. The square is best known as the entrance to the catacombs: a collection of millions of skulls and bones that were moved from the old cemetery in Les Halles. The central statue is known as the Lion of Belfort.
The Place des Antilles is a square that borders the large Place de la Nation to the east. Its architecture and layout mirrors the Place de l’Île-de-la-Réunion opposite the Avenue du Throne. Both squares are arranged around a central pavilion and a 28 meters tall column.
At the center of this small square stands a gilded 19th century statue of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc). Burned at the stake for heresy but later declared a saint she played a crucial role in the Hundred Years’ War against the English occupation.
The place des Victoires or ‘square of Victories’ was designed in 1685 by Jules Hardouin, the architect of King Louis XIV. The idea was to create the perfect backdrop for the central statue of the Sun King. Revolutionaries however destroyed the statue and it was replaced in 1822 by a different model.
This perfectly symmetrical square is one of the most beautiful in the world. Designed in 1604, the Place des Vosges was the first formal square created in Paris. Originally named Place Royale, Napoleon renamed it in 1800 after the Vosges Department, the first department in France to pay taxes.
This busy, central square was named after the ‘Grand Châtelet’ castle that stood here until it was destroyed by Napoleon. The two theaters opposite each other were built in 1862 as the Théâtre du Châtelet and the Théâtre de la Ville. At the center is the Palmier Fountain and a column celebrating Napoleon’s Victories.
Right behind the Palais Bourbon – the seat of the French National Assembly – is the Place du Palais Bourbon, a partly pedestrianized square with at its center a statue of a seated figure representing the law.
This square connects the two bridge spans of the Pont Neuf, one of the most famous bridges in Paris. An equestrian statue shows King Henry IV, during whose reign the bridge was built. Don’t forget to look across the street where you’ll see two picturesque brick houses.
The Place St. Michel is a popular square in the Latin Quarter, just across the Seine river from the Île de la Cité. Despite its commercial character the cafés around the square are still popular with students and tourists alike. The centerpiece of the square is a large fountain with a statue of archangel Michael.
In the middle of the pleasant St. Sulpice square is the ‘Fontaine des Quatre Points Cardinaux’, or fountain of the four that never were cardinal. It depicts four bishops who, evidently, never became cardinal. The square is dominated by the St. Sulpice church. Construction of the church started in 1646 and lasted for more than a century.
This grand square, lined with elegant houses, was built by King Louis XIV in an effort to dethrone the Place des Vosges as Paris’s most beautiful square. The statue of the Sun King at the center was destroyed by revolutionaries and replaced by a tall column glorifying Napoleon’s campaigns.