How did Parisian squares, formerly the heartland of small villages, evolve through the ages? What have they become? Oases of calm, places of joyful debauchery or cultural hotspots: whatever it is that you’re looking for, you’ll find it. Here’s our selection of the most beautiful squares in Paris.
We should warn you: coming here, you might think you travelled back to the 1930’s. At the end of Sainte-Marthe street, hidden in the labyrinthine alleys of the 10th arrondissement, this inconspicuous but incredibly lively square has a charming village vibe: cafés, bistros, record dealers, artists’ studios, concerts, shops and second-hand stores… Life never stops place Sainte-Marthe, especially thanks to the proactive neighbourhood association. Both cosmopolitan and traditional, the square’s core activity is now more modern-oriented, but has, thankfully, preserved its small-town aura.
Place Sainte-Marthe Xth
Metro: Line 2, Colonel Fabien
It’s an absolute delight to loaf around here and idly relax on a bench in the chestnut’s shades, listening to the far-away murmur of the Wallace fountain’s water flow. Despite appearances, square Emile-Goudeau is set at the very heart of Montmartre. Due to its location, it often attracts large crowds, irresistibly drawn by the illustrious artistic past of this popular district. Remember, while you’re walking by the n°13 and the Bateau-Lavoir, that you’re following in Renoir and Picasso’s footsteps…
Place Emile-Goudeau XVIIIth
Metro: line 12, Abbesses
This square, named after the market which opened on the grounds of the former Sainte-Catherine priory in 1784, is almost entirely pedestrian. Parisians head there to enjoy the easy-going pace and good-natured atmosphere of this square’s vibrant life… to the great displeasure of residents, who often complain about the noise. The ideal spot if you want to go out. Less so if you’re looking for somewhere to rest.
Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine, IVth
Metro: Line 1, Saint-Paul
Paris’ second royal square was specifically built for the dauphin, Louis XIII, and slowly became a popular spot for pétanque enthusiasts. Have a close look at its curious triangular shape, reminiscent of the female anatomy and earning it the honourable nickname of… Paris’ genitals.
Place Dauphine, IVth
Metro: line 7, Pont Neuf
Renamed place Maurice Chevalier in 1978, this square, located in the charming district of Belleville, is also one of the most touristy places of the XXth arrondissement. It’s not uncommon to stumble upon young lovers, dreamily sitting on benches near the Wallace fountain or strolling, hand in hand, on the cobblestones. Culture is an integral part of this square: every year, Parisians come to attend the boaters’ festival, a movie festival, concerts and exhibitions. If you have enough energy left to walk up 54 steps, you should also visit the Church Notre-Dame-de-la-Croix.
Place Maurice-Chevalier, XXth
Metro: Line 2, Ménilmontant
At the top of this mound (tertre, in French), Montmartre’s signature artistic past keeps on living. This iconic square, located a few meters away from the Sacré-Cœur, continues to attract artists who, alongside musicians and poets, come here to showcase and sell their paintings. Very touristy, it might not be the first choice of those seeking calm and quietude, but remains a world-famous square at the sight of which no one could stay indifferent.
Place du Tertre, XVIIIth
Metro: Line 12, Abbesses
The square was renamed place Dalida in 1997 to pay homage to the singer, who lived in the nearby Orchampt street. From the center of the square, her statue proudly stares at the passers-by. The celebrity loved this neighbourhood, where she lived for 25 years before committing suicide in 1987. As exemplified by the marks on Aslan’s bronze bust, caressing her breasts is supposed to bring you luck. Now you know! Dalida’s square eventually became a rallying place where her fans gathered to honour her memory. Apart from that, it’s also the ideal spot to enjoy the best view of the sinuous Abreuvoir street… A wondrous sight at night!
Place Dalida, XVIIIth
Metro: Line 12 Lamarck – Caulaincourt