When looking for a garden to contrast the stately Tuileries, almost nowhere is better than the Place des Vosges. While the Tuileries is centrally located in the first arrondissement between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, the Place des Vosges is a little harder to find. Nestled in the Marais district of Paris, it is between the third and fourth arrondissements. Many people likely find the Place des Vosges merely by walking around the Marais district, whereas the Tuileries dominates a large central portion of the city and almost demands people to walk through it.
The Place des Vosges is Paris’s oldest planned square, and is enclosed by red and white brick façades that sit on top of the square’s arches. Built by Henry IV in the early 17th century, it is a true square measuring 140m X 140m. The unity of the stone and brick buildings creates great symmetry for photographing, as well as a pleasing color scheme that pairs nicely with the green of the trees. The only statue in the garden is a bronze figure of Louis XIII placed directly in the center, which is a large contrast from the many statues located throughout the Tuileries. In the past, it has been a place for the French aristocracy to live, and one could argue that it provides the same purpose still today, as it is a highly exclusive and sought-after place to live. Even the smallest apartment available today is well over €1,000,000. It is surely an aristocratic address to have.
Along the outside of the park, art galleries and cafés line the archways, providing a cozy refuge for both tourists and locals. If you walk the circumference of the surrounding square, you can even stumble upon a door that leads you to a hidden secret garden in one of the corners of the square. These types of nooks and crannies available at the Place des Vosges are not so common in the Tuileries, where everything is out in the open.
While it may be easy to find yourself wandering and perhaps a little lost in the Tuileries, this is not the case in the Place des Vosges, as the outside of the park is visible at all times. The Tuileries garden covers a colossal sixty-three acres, while the Place des Vosges almost reaches a mere five acres.
Ultimately, every park or garden serves a unified purpose of relaxing or strolling in a pleasant outdoor space, free of the hustle and bustle of the city. However, it is fascinating to observe the feel that different gardens give to their visitors, based on its size or character. The Place des Vosges certainly gives a more intimate, neighborhood-centered atmosphere when comparing it to the massive and stately garden of the Tuileries. There is no room for ponds or large throngs of tourists walking down the entryways to the garden, nor cafés or Ferris wheels either. All of these things are much more possible in an extensive and grand garden like the Tuileries.