When traveling to Paris, you must take time to visit this idyllic spot. Place Dauphine is one of the prettiest squares in the City of Light and lies literally right in the center of Paris on the I’le de la Cite, in the 1st arrondissement. It’s called a square, but is really triangular in shape.
Over 400 years ago, in 1607, Henri IV created this area as a tribute to his son, Louis the XIII. The history and architecture are still the same, but the tenants have changed hands just a few times. Many a local or tourist have come and gone and come again.
It is a quiet and peaceful spot, surrounded by large red brick buildings and faded grey cobblestone walks. Gracing the center is a lovely park with trees and benches welcoming the avid reader or picnicker.
On nice sunny days, you’ll find men playing petanque and Parisians walking their adorable, well behaved dogs. You’ll find nary a car on these small cobbled paths, which makes it seem much more secluded and far-removed, rather than smack-dab in the center of Paris.
To the east, or the narrowest part of the triangle, is the Pont Neuf, the first bridge built across the Seine. There is also a statue of Henri IV marking this spot. From here you can clearly see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre complex, and the Pont Des Arts. Located beneath the bridge is a popular, albeit smaller, Seine tour boat company called Vendettes de Pont Neuf. Here you can experience a wonderful Seine cruise, day or night.
Considering its small size, you will find a surprising number of cafes, wine bars, restaurants and even a hotel. One of my favorite wine bars, the Taverne Henri IV, is located on the Pont Neuf side of the square. This is a great place for wines by the glass, cheese plates or a plat du jour (special of the day) at great prices. This is not a tourist trap, but rather a lively, convivial spot filled with locals, so expect an authentic experience.
Any time of the day is great to visit the Place Dauphine, but after darkness falls it acquires a magical charm. The ornate street lights glow off of the cobblestone streets and a little buzz can be heard from the Parisians who are dining outside, chatting, laughing and clinking wine glasses.
You hear the occasional clip-clop of stiletto heels against the cobbled sidewalks. The Seine is steps away and the lights from the Pont Neuf shimmer off the water,the tour boats seem to disappear under the bridge and the Eiffel Tower glows in the background.
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