The most beautiful squares in France
Even in the heart of our big cities, there is always a quieter place with old-fashioned charm, where people meet or simply come to drink a coffee on the terrace. This place of social contact, markets, small shops, administrative buildings and ornate facades is called the village square. It has always existed, even if its function has evolved over the years and the change in lifestyle. Nowadays, cattle are no longer sold in the main squares, but people like to come and have a chat with friends or admire the architecture of the region. Come with us for an escapade on the most beautiful squares of France.
Place Stanislas, Nancy
Night candelabra. By Nicolas Cornet - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vue_de_nuit_de_la_Place_Stanislas_%C3%A0_Nancy.jpg
It is one of the emblems of the Great East, and one of the most beautiful squares in the world. Place Stanislas dates back to the mid-18th century, and owes its name to the former King of Poland, exiled in Lorraine. A statue of him is enthroned in the middle of the site. The square, as well as all the surrounding buildings including the town hall and the opera house, were designed by the same architect. This brings a great coherence to the whole. Details such as the fountains representing aquatic deities and the golden gates give even more charm to this already prestigious place.
Place des Terreaux, Lyon
Place des Terreaux, Lyon. By Pom ': https://www.flickr.com/photos/pom-angers/
In Lyon, everyone is obviously familiar with the huge Place Bellecour with its clay court and meeting point "under the horse's tail". But the one of Les Terreaux is also worth a visit. It is located at the foot of the town hall, between the slopes of the Croix-Rousse and the heart of the peninsula. It is a lively place day and night, and very appreciated by the people of Lyon for its splendid Bartholdi fountain and its playful water jets.
La Grand-place, Lille
In the background, the Vieille Bourse (on the right). By Velvet - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lille_vue_gd_place.JPG
Since the 14th century, the people of Lille have been meeting on this esplanade to exchange goods, party and taste local specialities. The architecture of the buildings surrounding the square is typical of the northern regions, and therefore very colourful. There is the Théâtre du Nord, the old stock exchange, and an old bookshop called Furet du Nord. The most fun is to come and visit this square during the big sale of Lille.
Place du Capitole, Toulouse
Place du Capitole, Toulouse - Place du Capitole, the Capitole and the Toulouse cross. By Benh LIEU SONG - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Also called "La Ville Rose" (the Pink City), Toulouse is already very beautiful, but with its Place du Capitole, this makes it a must for visitors. This square owes its name to the building facing it, the superb Capitol, dating from the beginning of the 12th century. It has always been at the heart of the city, and has served as the seat of successive rulers. Note that on the square, you will be able to distinguish the Occitan cross drawn on the floor.
Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux
Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux - Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux reflected in the largest reflecting pool in the world. By Mariette - Personal work, Public domain
Elegance, water mirror, and French classic style: this is what the Place de la Bourse represents. With its arched facades overlooking the Fountain of the Three Graces, its hundreds of mascarons, and the Garonne flowing quietly in the background, this place is of rare beauty. At night, when the Palais de la Bourse is illuminated, its golden reflection floats magically in a mirror.
Place Rossetti, Nice
Place Rossetti, Nice. By Dennis Jarvis: https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/
Heading for the softness of the South-East, the sun and the sea spray of the French Riviera. Place Rossetti is neither the biggest nor the most impressive, but it has an outstanding charm. With its ochre facades, its small windows on which hang laundry, and its Sainte-Réparate cathedral, it has everything to please. And let's not forget the ice-cream makers and cooks who work here for the pleasure of gourmets.
Place des héros, Arras
La Place des Héros, Arras - View of the square on the west side with the town hall and the belfry. By David Merrett, CC BY 2.0
Back to the North with this magnificent square whose facades are remarkable historical monuments. With their Flemish style, their red bricks and their arcades, they give a particular character to the whole place. There is also a flamboyant gothic belfry which is designated a world heritage.
Place du Palais des Papes, Avignon
Place du Palais des Papes, Avignon - The Palais des Papes seen from Place du Palais, in the Avignon Center district. By Jean-Marc Rosier, CC BY-SA 3.0
Watch out for your ankles on this fully paved esplanade. It is a central place in Avignon around which you will find some magnificent historical buildings: the famous Palais des Papes (the largest medieval gothic building in the world), the cathedral Notre-Dame des Doms, and the Petit Palais. This square is therefore an excellent starting point for a day of French History.
Wherever you stay in France, large squares are within easy reach. But it's not necessarily the size that gives charm. The small village squares with a market, the corner pub, plane trees and a petanque ground are also perfect for a great time .