Possibly the prettiest square in the city, this beautiful spot combines elegance, greenery, and quiet. Nowhere in Paris will you find such a unity of Renaissance-style architecture; the entire square is bordered by 17th-century brick townhouses, each conforming to rules set down by Henri IV himself, under which runs arched arcades. The square’s history dates back to a mishap in 1559, when the site was occupied by a royal palace. During a tournament, feisty King Henri II decided to fight Montgomery, the captain of his guard. A badly aimed lance resulted in Henri’s untimely death; his wife, Catherine de Medicis, was so distraught she had the palace demolished. His descendant, Henri IV, took advantage of the free space to construct a royal square. Over the centuries, a number of celebrities lived in the 36 houses, including Mme de Sévigny and Victor Hugo. Today the homes are for the rich, as are the chic boutiques under the arcades, but the lawns, trees, fountains, and playground are for everyone.
- Margie Rynn