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PLACE DAUPHINE / SECRET SPOTS

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The best reason for visiting the Place Dauphine, is because you can.

The whole square (now a triangle) was slated for demolition in the 1800’s, as part of Baron Haussmann’s modernization plan. If you love the grand, sweeping boulevards of Paris, you can thank Baron Haussmann for them. If you love the little streets with vestiges of Medieval Paris and the beautiful architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries, you should also thank Baron Haussmann…for not tearing them down.

He was the Prefect of the Seine, charged by Napoleon III, with the giant task of making Paris the most beautiful and functional city in Europe. Although Haussmann’s achievements were enormous, such as creating new sewer and water systems, he did manage to destroy a great deal of charm and history along the way.

So it was, that the Place Dauphine was on his list for complete eradication. Completed in 1616 by Henri IV, in honor of his son, the Dauphin (heir to the throne), the East side of the square came down in 1874. Fortunately, financial crises and changes of administration led to the abandonment of this project. Two houses of almost original design face the Pont Neuf and offer us a glimpse into the Place Dauphine of the 17th century.

Locals play the game, petanque in this quiet little park, dogs are walked, people sit. Hundreds of souls march across the Pont Neuf, hurriedly going somewhere. Very few are even aware of Place Dauphine’s existence and that is one of its charms. It’s quite a feat, providing a calm oasis , while the city whirls around it at a dizzying pace.

There’s a time-honored wine bar serving classic tartines (open-faced sandwiches) and bistrot fare a few steps away called Taverne Henri IV, Located at 13 Place du Pont Neuf.

PLACE DAUPHINE
Access: Rue Henri-Robert, Place du Pont-Neuf
1st Arrondisement
Metro: Pont Neuf

For some amateurs de Paris (lovers of Paris), these spots may not be secret at all. Maybe you frequent them, drawn like the bee to the flower. Maybe you have never heard them mentioned. These places do not find their way onto the broad first-time visitor to Paris itinerary. But as an adjunct to “doing the Louvre”, and as a way to become more intimate with the nuances of this complex city, I highly recommend them. Who doesn’t like to be led off the beaten path?



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