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The Photogenic Place des Vosges

Did you ever know someone who always, no matter what condition he or she is in, takes a great photo? It’s uncanny how the camera sees the person with tremendous beauty, even if in-person he or she may be good looking, but not as alluring as what the camera sees.

We call it being ‘photogenic.’


That’s what Place des Vosges is like. It’s Paris’ most photogenic spot. Of course, you are sure to argue with me that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other beautiful places in Paris that may be equally photogenic, but let’s save the argument for another day, another time, and just concentrate on Place des Vosges.

I will not enlighten you with a full count of the square’s historical significance. Enough has been written about it in tomes and online to sink a proverbial battleship. This one time, let’s just take it on ‘face value’ — why it is considered one of the most beautiful squares in the world.

A week or so ago I chose to walk through the Place on the way home about sundown. The sky was void of any clouds and the linden trees were thick with leaves. The square was closed and therefore not a single person was there to disturb the serenity.

The sight was breathtakingly beautiful. With an iPhone in hand, I stopped to snap a few photos. Here they are — taken with no special lenses, no professional eye…just the Place des Vosges as it was that evening and what I saw.

The linden trees (“tilleul” in French) are all over Europe and France. In Berlin, the boulevard “Under der Linden” leads to the Brandenburg Gate. In France, they are in schoolyards, village squares, palaces and parks. The Palais Royal is another Parisian square lined with lindens. The linden is definitely one reason the Place is so incredibly photogenic, casting their dark shadows and their silvery tones, cooling the square on even the hottest of days.

Then, there is the color of the red brick that casts a warm glow, rather than the gray, cool tones of most other Paris stone buildings. Few buildings in Paris are made of brick, especially those as old as the Place, dating back to the early 17th-century. One exception is the The Hôpital St Louis also built under the orders of Henri IV.

There is also something about the symmetry (140 X 140 meters) which makes it calm and pleasing to the eye. There are 35 buildings surrounding the square, all of the same design. At the north side over one of the two main gateways is the Queen’s Pavilion (hence the hotel at this location named “Le Pavilion de la Reine”) and on the south side over the gateway is the King’s Pavilion.

When the apartment came up for sale that we now know as “Le Palace des Vosges” my heart skipped a beat. Would it really be possible to have even a tiny fraction of one of the world’s most beautiful and elegant residences? It wasn’t always elegant. In fact, two centuries after its inception, it fell into a gradual decline becoming a slum and a center of the Jewish ghetto. Today it’s gone from rags to riches as few addresses in Paris are as chic.

Le Palace des Vosges is Paris’ most beautiful fractional ownership property, situated at number 9 in what at one time were the stables for the Hôtel de Chaulnes — the private residence of the advisor to the king, Pierre Fougeu-Descures, and where Louis XIII lodged during the festive inauguration of the “Place Royale” (its name at the time). Today, located on the first floor overlooking the main courtyard is the Académie d’Architecture and directly on the Place is the Michelin three-star restaurant, Ambroisie.

Every time I enter the Place, whether to visit the owners at Le Palace or just to walk through for a gander, the sight thrills me. It never gets old, I never get jaded thinking it’s ‘just another ordinary vision in the City of Light.’ Never.

A la prochaine…

ADRIANatPDVAdrian Leeds

Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC

(in Place des Vosges)

Respond to Adrian



009 palace des vosgesP.S. There are only three shares left to call your own at Le Palace des Vosges. If you want to own a share at the city’s best address and most beautiful place, visit Le Palace des Vosges for more information or email: [email protected].

17-6-13everydayfrenchchefP.P.S. Want to cook at home and pretend you’re in France every day of the week, regardless of where you are? Check out American journalist Meg Bortin’s new blog, “The Everyday French Chef” for the modern cook’s guide to producing fabulous French food the easy way! Visit
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