Situated off of the Pont Neuf bridge, Place Dauphine is without a doubt one of the most beautiful hidden spots in Paris — a tiny pocket immune from loud tourists or the busy “Quai” off the Seine river. A mere 102 meters in length, Place Dauphine, in the shape of a triangle, is buttressed by tall old apartment buildings, and faces the grand Palais de Justice (French Supreme Court), with its marbled lions guarding its grand doors. Shaded by tall buidlings, this little plaza has a park with benches, where lovers smooch and old men come to play pétanque, the French version of bowling.
Built in 1607 by Henri IV, little seems to have changed, except the street is made of cobblestone, and a new alley way called Rue Henri Robert intersects with the Pont Neuf, but can easily be missed if one is driving by. Lined with some great restaurants, including La Rose de France, Caveau du Palais, and Restaurant Paul, it is a perfect spot to come for lunch and, weather permitting, sit outside and enjoy the serene view. I have been to each of these restaurants and all are good. La Rose de France is more hip, while Caveau du Palais and Restaurant Paul are nearly indistinguishable, being side by side, with sidewalk tables lined with white linen.
My family likes to ride our bicycles here, especially on Sundays when the main street along the Seine is closed. As it is also close to Notre Dame and Les Bouquinistes that line the Seine, it is a really great venue, especially for walking next to the famous Latin Quarter. Indeed, we would have our boys wear their medieval play armor and swords, and then do battle. It is also a good park to bring your dog (who can sit with you as you have lunch), or play football.
It has always amazed me why more people don’t come to this quiet pocket of Paris. That is fine by me. Let’s keep it that way.