May Day is My Day at the Place des Vosges
In one day the leaves appeared. Or so it seemed.
I can remember once sitting under the thick rows of plane trees at the 400-year-old Place des Vosges one spring literally watching the leaves grow and open before my very eyes. This ‘snap shot’ was taken just yesterday in a brief moment without much contemplation. It just IS that beautiful.
It’s a tradition to celebrate Labor Day in France with a picnic on the grass at the Place des Vosges, a perfectly symmetrically square apartment complex made of brick and stone that is reminiscent of
Jackson Square in New Orleans, which was actually fashioned after it. This year should be no different as May 1st is fast upon us…tomorrow in fact!
Originally named The Place Royale, the one-time gated community (you once needed a key to enter its gates) was built by Henri IV from 1605 to 1612 as a true square (140 meters x 140 meters) on the site of the Hôtel des Tournelles and its gardens. It was here that during a tournament, Henri II was wounded and died.
Until 2001, the “Pelouse Interdite” or “Pelouse au Repose” (“Keep off the Grass”) signs marked the thick grassy triangles, but now you’ll find it wall to wall with sunworshipers and picnickers. There is something quite comforting about its symmetry and formal gardens, even if wedged into such intimate spaces while munching on your baguette sandwich.
A few weeks ago, one of our lucky clients scored a duplex apartment on the Place, Paris’ chicest residential address and most valuable if not most expensive property. Finding available property within its sacred walls is as almost as difficult as getting the Democratic Party nomination for presidency of the United States.
The apartment, on the top floors with views on the courtyard and the adjacent “Hôtel Particulier” on rue de Turenne, is currently under complete renovation and will be made available at some future date for rental to visitors when the Aussie owners aren’t occupying it. I bet they won’t want to give it up so easily!
Past Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, who we have to thank for having created the annual “Fête de la Musique” in 1981, lives in the same building. And just yesterday I visited another apartment in the same building, by sheer coincidence. The enormously spacious and magnificently appointed apartment in a very historical part of the building, was once owned by the son of an artist (whose name is a household word and which cannot be divulged here) is being made exclusively for sale only to very special qualifying buyers. (We were the first to see it!)
We also visited another smaller apartment for sale ‘down the road’ of vaulted archways next to the famous Michelin three-star restaurant, L’Ambroisie. it was more like a “petite maison” with floor to ceiling windows on the courtyard, down a narrow cobble-stoned street hidden behind the buildings set on the Place. You’d never know it existed there, but from its steps one could see the beautiful Hôtel de Sully peeking behind the double garage that was an added bonus.
You all know how much I love my Marais apartment in its 17th-century Hôtel Particulier building with its lovely cobblestoned courtyard and elegant staircase, but given an opportunity to trade it for a little corner in the Place des Vosges…that kind of May day would make my day.
Picnicking at the Places des Vosges under April showers, May 1, 2006… A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. If you are seriously interested in the Place des Vosges properties, and are prepared to pay up to 20,000 euros per square meter, contact us at [email protected]
P.P.S. May is the month of holidays in France: May 1, May 8, May 11 and May 12, but that won’t stop us from gathering on May 13th for Parler Paris Après Midi! Mark your calendar now and I hope to see you there. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for more information.