Place des Vosges

One of the joys of travelling is bringing memories and inspiration back home. Walking through public gardens in the cities you are visiting is relaxing and a respite from hours of pounding the pavement. A favourite pastime of mine is sitting on a bench, reflecting on the day and watching the world pass by.

Although I’ve been to Paris many times, it’s just been on the last two visits that I’ve made my way to Place des Vosges. If you have been watching “Emily in Paris” you will recognize the scenes filmed there. It is one of the few gardens in Paris where you are allowed to sit on the grass.

Place des Vosges is the oldest planned square in Paris (1605-1612), located between the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. Originally called Place Royale, it was never home to royalty but a meeting place for them and other wealthy aristocrats. The garden is surrounded by 36 towering residences identical with red brick and stone exteriors and steeply pitched blue slate roofs. As you pass along the stone arcades on the ground level, you will find museums, galleries, retail and designer boutiques, and restaurants. One notable museum at #6 Place des Vosges is the Maison de Victor Hugo, where the renowned writer once resided. Isadora Duncan and Colette also called Place des Vosges home.

The square is 140m x 140m and is perfectly symmetrical. You can relax on the benches under rows of tightly clipped Linden trees around the perimeter of the garden.  The original statue of Louis X11, destroyed during the revolution, was replaced with a replica in 1825. In the centre of the square is a lavish fountain. The history of Place des Vosges is intriguing; however, it’s the garden design that I love most.  That formality has influenced what I’ve tried to achieve in my garden.

The Spring of 2015 saw a huge transformation of my front garden. First, I had the grass removed…it was very tired, patchy and full of dandelions. The store had closed a few weeks prior, and suddenly I had time...too much time on my hands. With Sundays being my day off, time in the garden was minimal until then. Before that the planning and work I had done was in the back garden…the front was mostly neglected.

The photos below were taken after the grass was removed.

The first project for the front garden was planting boxwood hedges close to the city sidewalk with an iron fence in between. Hydrangea, lilacs, blooming shrubs and Korean lilac standard trees were planted behind the boxwood hedges (you may have guessed that both sides of the front walk have to mirror each other!). On one side is a Weeping Willow and the other side has a Japanese Lilac tree.

Over the years, as I’ve planted new shrubs, the soil has been amended, hoping to give them the best start possible. I’ve resisted fertilizing, and along with drought conditions in recent years, the production is not quite what I had envisioned. And with the arrival of Charlie in July last summer, my time was spent caring for and training a puppy. The front garden was all but forgotten…

I plan to spend some (hours) quality time in the front garden this year.  The shrubs that have been struggling will probably have to be removed and many more will be planted.  I want to maintain some formality while creating a lush array of mostly white (no surprise there!) blooming shrubs and perennials.  I can hardly wait to see if all the 100’s of tulips I planted in the fall will bloom as well as the additional alliums I added into the diamond pattern of the boxwood hedges.

Now the snow has to melt!!!!! and the April showers bring much-needed moisture to our gardens.

What do you have planned for the upcoming garden season?

xox Judy



10 thoughts on “Place des Vosges”

  1. As always I love your vlogs and the inspiration you bring. I love the formality of your garden, as is what I try to compose in mine. Yesterday I had our very old crab apple tree taken down. It has opened up the yard and we will not longer be dealing with picking hundreds of these apple and have them plop all over the sidewalks and lawn in the fall. Now what to put in that area, thinking of a sitting area with pea gravel as a base? I have been chipping thick slabs of ice in both the front and back yards, move spring along. The Greenland Rose 🌹 House opens April 15th, more inspiration, maybe climbing roses 🥀 Happy gardening , with the pains and tiredness, comes the joy of creating all the beauty that surrounds us.

    1. Hi Monique, It is always hard to see an old tree come down but it does open up opportunities for a new possibilities in the garden. I love the idea of adding a seating area (however, do you ever take to time to relax!). It’s always a treat to have dinner in the garden and have a new perceptive from a different vantage point. I look forward to going out to Greenland to see all that beauty in one place. Whatever you decide to do, I know it will look amazing! xox Judy❤️

  2. The boxwood pattern is amazing Judy! You’ve done a lot of work already. You are fortunate to not have a drive way and garage door to look at in your front yard.
    My front yard is rather plain and boring with a huge spruce tree taking over, and sucking all the moisture out of the lawn. It doesn’t matter how much water we pour on, the lawn won’t flourish any more. What to do, as I hate to cut down a beautiful tree.
    Over the last several years my focus has been on the back yard. We removed several beautiful trees in the back yard because of all the roots in the lawn, and my fear of foundation damage. Now I kind of regret that.
    I too have been contemplating a gravel pathway to a more intimate, shaded, bistro table area in the back yard.
    I think I will need to hire a garden planner this year. Any suggestions for people who do land scaping?
    I guess a gardeners work IS never done, but it is fulfilling work.

    1. Hi Karen, We had two weeping birch trees in our front garden when we moved in. I loved them but unfortunately they had lived out their lifespan and we had to take them out…I cried as they came down. If your spruce tree is healthy you may choose to take out the grass instead of the tree. A lawn requires a lot of moisture too and with the drought over the past several years you may find shrubs or perennials that tolerate acidic soil. I look forward to hearing what you decide to do this summer. xox Judy❤️

  3. Your boxwood hedges are gorgeous Judy! I hope all your tulips and alliums survived the winter ok. I’m eagerly waiting to see if mine did as well. Do you have any tips and tricks for taking care of hydrangeas? We planted a couple last year because I absolutely love them but sadly we’ve never had much luck with them🥴. I’ve got my gardening apron (from your beautiful online boutique🥰!) and gloves on standby and I’m ready to get out there….as soon as the weather agrees😂. Fingers crossed we’ll be out in our gardens soon! Hugs, Karen xo❤️

    1. HI Karen, Last summer my hydrangea did not do well either. I have a feeling it was just too hot and dry and hydrangea like moisture. If mine come back this spring I am going to cut back about a third (mine are the kind that bloom on new wood) and try some fertilizer (which I have never done before) and make sure they never dry out. It’s so disappointing that the weather is going to be so cold for the next week…that only prolongs the waiting for tulips to brighten our day. xox Judy❤️

      1. Thanks so much for the info Judy…I’ll have to check again what type I have and whether I should cut mine back and fertilize as well. At least I can see that my strawberries (which I forgot to cover🙄) and my rhubarb are getting back into the swing of things😂. Let me know how your hydrangeas respond to the pruning and I will do the same! I’ve heard that they like to be kept moist but do not like to have standing water around the base. Good luck with them and your tulips!!! xo🥰Karen

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