French cities are home to a fantastic array of historic squares (or “places” as they are known in French).
Here are our favourites.
Place de la Concorde, Paris
The largest in Paris, this octagon-shaped square is located in the capital’s 8th arrondissement. At the centre stands an obelisk which Egypt gave to the French government in the 19th century. Beautiful, yes, but the square has a bloody past. During the revolution many people were guillotined here, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Today, the square is a lot less bloody – but visitors should keep a serious eye out for the mad motorists zooming past.
Photo: Photo: Bruno Monginoux/Flickr
Place du Capitole, Toulouse
Located in the heart of the southern French city, this square houses the city's neo-classical town hall and opera house. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes lining the square where you can sit and enjoy the view.
Photo: Benh LIEU SONG/Wikicommons
Place Bellecour, Lyon
If you go for size then Place Bellecour is probably among your favourites. Measuring 312 m by 200 m, the spectacular Place Bellecour is one of the largest open squares in Europe, and the third biggest square in France behind the Place des Quinconces in Bordeaux and Place de la Concorde in Paris. This square, seen here in winter, forms the central focus of the Presqu'île between the Saône and the Rhône rivers.
Place des Quinconces, Bordeaux
Measuring a whopping 126,000 square metres, this square is thought to be the largest in Europe. The square's main monument was erected in memory of the Girondists who were executed during the French Revolution. If you want to know a whole lot more about Bordeaux, click here.
Photo: Photo: vinh161/Flickr
Place Kleber, Strasbourg
There's probably no better place to be in the run up to Christmas than Strasbourg's main square Place Kleber. It plays home to the city's world famous Christmas market as well as a giant Christmas tree. Having said that, the square, named after general Jean-Baptiste Kléber, born in Strasbourg in 1753, is beautiful all year round.
Place Stanislas, Nancy
Know as Place Stan', this beautiful 18th square is classed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, along with the city's Place de la Carriere and Place D'Alliance. It takes its name from Stanislaw Leszczynsk, the Polish King who became Duke of Lorraine
Photo: Arnaud Malon
Place de la Bastille, Paris
This square is the site of the former Bastille prison, which was destroyed during the French Revolution. At the centre of the square is a column built to commemorate “les trois glorieuses”, or the “three glorious days” between July 27-29th 1830 which saw the beginning of the July Monarchy of Louis-Philippe and abdication of Charles X. This is the second of the Paris squares that comes with a traffic warning – admire it from a safe distance.
Photo: Pittaya Sroilong/Flickr
Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux
Commissioned by Louis XV in the 18th century, this square has boasted World Heritage status since 2007. It houses the former Stock Exchange Hall, now Bordeaux's Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Photo: Phillip Maiwald/Wikicommons
Place Masséna, Nice
This square, located centrally, takes its name from French military commander André Masséna, and is the main square of the city. It's hugely popular with pedestrians and just a short walk from the beach. Watch out for the trams!
Photo: Magali M/Flickr
Place des Terreaux, Lyon
The centrepiece of this stunning square is the Fontaine Bartholdi. Sculpted by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, it depicts a woman on a chariot driven by four horses, representing France and the country's four main rivers. Want to know more about Lyon? Click here.
Photo: Anthony V./Flickr
Place du Général de Gaulle, Lille
At the centre of this square stands the Column of the Goddess, a memorial of the Siege of 1792 during the French Revolution, when Lille citizens stood against the Austrian army. It takes its name from the former French president and general who was born in the town, although nowadays it's simply known as “Grand'Place”. Want to know more about Lille? Click here.
Grand Place, Arras
This beautiful square in northern France may often be filled with parked cars, but it's the surrounding building that you're here for so take it all in. The town's Places des Héros is also well worth a look.
Place des Vosges, Paris
And lastly, we're back to Paris. And which square could be more perfect that this one, in Marais, which is actually it's a perfect square at 140 by 140 metres. It takes its name from the north-east department of Vosges, which was the first to pay taxes imposed by the new government following the French Revolution. Famous residents include author Victor Hugo, whose house is now a museum close by. The Local listed the a picnic at the square as one of the most romantic things to do in Paris here.
Photo: David Merrett/Flickr