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  • Writer's pictureParisian Niche

Paris' Elegant Place Dauphine...

Oh, these deliciously long summer days and nights, where the sun sets near 10pm and Paris is yours to explore....

That's how we discovered Place Dauphine, accidentally stumbling upon the charming triangle, and sitting to enjoy watching a group of (very handsome) Frenchmen playing a rousing match of pétanque. Let's take a P'Niche peek to learn more about this petit gem (which takes its name from the Dauphin of France, the future Louis XIII)...

While Place Dauphine is physically a triangle (an isosceles to be exact - good thing I finally passed geometry!) it's technically categorized as a public square - in fact, it's Paris' second public square (after Place des Vosges), the ambitious project initiated by Henry IV in 1607. Just beside the statue of Henry IV himself, on horseback, these two stunning buildings, with their charming facades, were erected around 1612 and flank the almost secretive entrance to la Place Dauphine.

Once you walk into this main entrance of the charming spot (coming in from le Pont Neuf - more on this bridge later, so we hope you will subscribe to join us back here in the Parisian Niche), you can really take in both the triangular layout, as well as the row of housing.

These jewel box houses line up nicely across the eastern side of la rue de Harlay. While Place Dauphine borders la rue de Harlay (located in the first arrondissement), the street borders le Palais de Justice on it's western side.

Rue de Harlay takes her name from the first speaker of the Paris Parlement, one Monsiuer Achille de Harlay (1536 - 1616).

These houses were enveloped with brick and limestone quoins. These masonry blocks, served as both structural support and aesthetically pleasing details. The thickness of the constructed walls, as well as the unique layout of the place offer unique soundproofing, lending a lovely air of tranquility and peace to this city center respite.

Across the top of each building, an attic floor was installed, complete with steep rooftops (composed of slate stone) and dormers. Unlike the rooftops of la Place Royale, these buildings share a single, consistent rooftop. Individually, the interior of each building varied greatly. While the only remaining originals are the two flanking pavilions, each of the original 32 homes was built with a ground floor, two square stories, and the attic level.

How can that be, when these buildings are each much taller than what you describe?

So glad you asked, inquisitive P'Nicher!

Well, these homes, once dedicated to the merchants and posh bankers of the times, have all been remodeled, built higher, or even replaced, maintaining strict adherence to the royal look of the period.

While the (102 meter long / 67 meter wide) triangle is demarcated the western entrance (by the Henri IV statue) and by la rue de Harlay on her eastern side, her other two sides are delineated by Quai de l'Horloge (to the north) and Quai des Orfèvres (to the south).

P'Niche PSA: Aside from strolling la rue de la Colombe, this walk is truly one of the most romantic you will find in Paris. Le sigh...

Our charming triangle-square was not immune to the ravages of time and history. in fact, during the French revolution, when all royal and monarchical traces were removed, the place became called La Place de Thionville - an homage to the resistance and Thionville garrison (during battle against the Prussian military in 1792) and would maintain that moniker though 1814.

Further, the square welcomed a new resident - this Fontaine Desaix (who remained here from 1803-1874). The work was designed by architect Charles Percier, and quite importantly, this was the first structure of any sort which didn't honor a monarch, but rather the General Desaix, who fought to the end in the Battle of Marengo (1800). While no longer in the square, the fountain was safely dismantled and moved to Riom in 1906.

Fast forward to 2009 and we are faced with a bummer of a natural dilemma.

A rare, but disastrous insect bourn disease wiped out the entirety of the stunning chestnut tree population, which had shaded the square and covered the pétanque pitch with a pink tapestry of sand and perfectly placed petals.

Luckily, a team of botanical experts was able to source and plant a new set of chestnut trees, which have taken nicely to the rich soil, and now have grown wonderfully in their place to shade the square once again. This is a living representation of Paris' motto, Fluctuat Nec Mergitur. "She is tossed, but she does not sink." Yay, Paris!

Needless to say, with a square that is peppered with charming cafes and the like, both French culture and pop culture have made herself known.

From writers like Andre Bréton to modern television/cinema with scenes in Sex & The City, Midnight in Paris, Me Before You, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the Pursuit of Love, etc. French celebrities have also made Place Dauphine there home, most notably actress Simone Signoret and actor/singer Yves Montand, at number 15.

Ready to check out Place Dauphine for yourself? Wonderful!

It couldn't be easier to get to - in fact, if you have been to Paris before but missed it, she was cheekily hiding in plain sight - how perfectly coquette!

Métro: Pont Neuf (line 7)

Cité (Line 4)

Look for the Henri IV Equestrian statue before heading in between the two pavilion buildings.

There are no open/close hours, but this, like rue Crémeiux, is a residential area, so please be respectful and courteous with yours cameras and noise levels, as I know you chic travelers will be!

So, P'Nicher what do you think your favorite part of this picturesque triangle-square will be or what memories do you hold dear from a previous stroll? Sound off in the comments below et à bientôt!


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Phyllis Cartwright
Phyllis Cartwright
Jul 08

I always love going here. It is a treasure in Paris that's not so hidden any more! I really enjoy the cafe there - Ma salle a Manger. Highly recommend! Merci for this article Chrissy!


Debra Borchert
Debra Borchert
Jun 26

Oh, my, how could I have missed this gem? Merci for yet another reason to return, while those beautiful chestnut trees are in bloom.

Jun 28
Replying to

Road Trip?! And so very worth a sweet visit - it's beyond charming and peaceful - I cannot wait to hear what you think and merci! 😍

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