The Place des Vosges through new eyes

“You’re going to Paris again?” The annoyance is palpable when friends ask that — and it’s a fair question. There are so many beautiful places in the world, so many interesting cities besides Paris. “Don’t you get bored, seeing the same stuff?”

I’m always tempted to reply:

The real voyage stairs BLOG

This quote came to mind last month in Paris’ Place des Vosges. I love this enclosed square both for its historical significance and its beauty, but I’ve explored it only in passing.

Place des Vosges postcard BLOG

What this means photographically is that I’ve shot only what immediately grabbed my attention each time. Looking back, I’m struck by how differently I’ve “seen” the same place during those visits.


Paris Vosges 3 2007 BLOG

Paris Vosges 9 2007 BLOG


Place des vosges in the rain CR CL BLOG 2008


Vosges fountain 1030151 BLOG 2008


Vosges door 1210184 BLOG

Vosges door 1210182 BLOG

In this case I wish I could have a “do-over.” (Poor pigeon!)

paris vosges 1100439 2011 blog

Place des Vosges 1200213 BLOG

Vosges 1100434 BLOG

Vosges 1100463 BLOG


Place des Vosges 1300563 BLOG

Vosges doorknocker 1300449 BLOG

Vosges doorknocker 1300441 BLOG

Vosges arches 1300444 BLOG


Place des Vosges CX 1020870 BLOG

Vosges courtyard 1070902 BLOG


P1750832 CL BLOG

P1750866 CR BLOG

Vosges Paris 1750881 CR BLOG

Vosges Paris 1750938 BLOG.jpg

Paris Vosges 1750949 CL BLOG

Vosges Paris 1750978 BLOG

Vosges Paris 1750954 BLOG

Vosges Paris 1750769 CX BLOG

Vosges Paris 1750928 BLOG

There are no profound lessons here, save one: To fully capture the Place des Vosges, I think I will always need to go back at least one more time.


  1. That Proust quote is one of my favorites, reminding us that we are the important ingredient to seeing the beauty around us. Your photos over the years prove that point as well–thanks for sharing the timeline of images. I would say at least one more visit, but really many, many more!

    • As always, you’ve said it wonderfully Patty: WE are the important ingredient in seeing the beauty around us! Still, I’ve been incredibly privileged and lucky that my life has been filled with so much beauty.

      Thank you, as always, for stopping by.

    • Thank you so much, Terry! I’m honored you stopped by, and grateful for your comment. (As an aside, your blog is wonderful! I find it insightful, and full of great thought-fodder.)

  2. Those are cool pics.. reminds me kind of when I lived in Kesgrave (if I spelled it right), England, some of the architecture and the cars, just the landscapes in general..

    • You know what, Mahak? Those photos make *me* feel like visiting Paris again, too. 😉 Thank you for stopping by!

      • U r wlcm 🙂 and after seeing these pics i want to visit Paris as soon as! What a place!

    • Thank you, Corey! I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the Place des Vosges either. There’s always something interesting to see or hear there. Cheers to you!

  3. That’s a new quote for me but it is so true. You have a keen eye for a photograph as today’s gallery so clearly shows – and is so often the case, the beauty of a place is not to be found in the grand buildings but in the small details that so many miss.

    • What a kind comment — thank you! You are so right that the beauty of a place is often found in the small details, and I think that’s precisely why I keep returning to Paris. It’s full of tiny treasures that reveal themselves only to the observant eye — and I know that for every treasure I spot I’m probably missing six others. It’s a master class in paying attention, every time I go.

    • I do hope you can go someday! With your interest in cooking and your fine sense for aesthetics, you would absolutely LOVE it. It’s a feast for the senses like no other on earth, at least to me. But I’d better stop waxing poetic, lest I make myself homesick again. 😉

  4. Gorgeous photos, H. Is your camera the same throughout?

    Looking at your 2007 shots, they do have a panoramic enthusiasm of “I must capture everything. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to come here again.” When everything around you is amazing, everything draws your eye.

    Nine years later, you know that Paris is your muse and you’re able to take your time with her. It’s like any healthy long-term relationship: the early “Oh my God!” excitement of discovery mellows into time.

    You’re way past first date status with Paris. Your photos are a lovely record of ‘retrouvailles’. Long may your love affair continue!

    • What an insightful comment! And you’re spot-on: My first couple of photos are the typical snaps you’d expect from a tourist, aren’t they? “Oh my God. It’s the Place des Vosges!” But to build on your wonderful love-affair analogy, I know the place more intimately now … its moles and warts, its “good side,” and even when it wakes up. Because of that there’s a risk of taking this favorite place for granted, though, because familiarity can breed boredom. But this little exercise has me that — just like people — our favorite places are always changing and evolving. More than anything, I count myself very lucky indeed that I’ve had enough visits to fully appreciate that.

      Oh, and about the camera: That’s another interesting observation on your part, because I switched to a new system in 2010 that offered a the potential for an even wider field of view — yet it’s not really reflected in my photos. It goes to show, I think, that the equipment is secondary to what we actually *see.*

      • It sounds as if you’ve discovered a place that speaks to your heart, and that you’re still listening with attention. Your photos are testament to it – there’s not a whisper of ‘taking for granted’ in them.

        Your friends must appreciate monogamy, surely? It works for places as well as people. And when it doesn’t work anymore, you’ll know it. Think of Monet and his Water Lily paintings. Imagine his friends going “For God’s sake, Claude. Not the bloody garden again. It’s been 30 years. Aren’t you sick of those flowers by now?”

        There’s always another layer of Paris to explore:

        • I literally laughed out loud when I got to your (imagined) story about Monet and his water lilies. Point well made! And merci infiniment for saying that “there’s not a whisper of ‘taking for granted’” in my photos. I really appreciate that, because it’s been a real fear for me.

          As for those other layers of Paris to explore … I actually know about this clock-repair affair, at least tangentially. Isn’t it marvelous? If I can find the “documentary” they did about it, I’ll send you the link.

        • … of course you know that “seeing” is the most important thing, because you are a wise photographer, Rochelle. And your photos certainly reflect that. xx

    • Well said, Tom: There are indeed “always new layers to discover in ourselves.” Thank you for being one of my most influential role models, by showing me through your example how to keep learning, and unfolding those layers.

    • Thank you, Jeff! No underground adventures this time, I’m afraid — that’s almost an all-day affair, and I didn’t want to abandon my poor husband. But next time! I’m already looking forward to next time … 🙂

    • I love all the spirals and arches too, Rachel! They’re such unique architectural details, aren’t they? They really soften the overall effect of what would otherwise be a landscape of straight lines and right angles. Thank you for stopping by!

  5. When you look deeply at an image, first you see its subject, then you see some aspect of the photographer, and finally you see the aspect of yourself that connects with the image.

    They are all beautiful, and an interesting progression/evolution.
    My favourite is 2008.

    • What an insightful comment, Keith! I’d never thought of it that way, but you’re absolutely right. (And 2008 is one of my all-time favorites, too. 🙂

  6. It seems to me that as the time has passed, Paris has become a more intimate subject for you, yielding even better photos as you get even closer, physically and emotionally, to its beauty.

    • Beautifully said, Pam. I certainly feel Paris has become a more intimate subject — I’m always trying to get one layer deeper, past the touristy veneer. But I continue to be disappointed in my photos. I’ll have to keep working on that, I think. 😉

  7. Really timeless pictures, wonderful, hope to have the opportunity to see a part of that all! Great!!!

  8. You’re too rich that you can go anywhere you want, i live at the Philippines for my entire life and and I’m bored seeing the same stuff. anyways nice shot 😀 I’m newbie Hi 😀

    • You’re right, Erica: I am SO FORTUNATE to be able to take travel vacations, and I’m deeply grateful for the privilege. But I hope I’m not giving the impression that I can jet off “anywhere,” anytime I want! In fact, I make choices in other parts of my life — like living in a small house, and wearing second-hand clothes — so I can save money for the occasional trip. Nevertheless, thank you for reminding me of how lucky I am that I get to go to Paris at all. I hope you’ll have the opportunity someday too.

  9. These pictures remind me yet again of why I love Paris. The various shots of the same things help reveal multiple perspectives of the viewer, I do believe. I love the door knocker and the arches. The latter make me think of the early development of the city and the various personalities of the Place I read about in How Paris Became Paris. I enjoyed this post enormously. Thanks, H!

    • I’m so honored and pleased that my post brought back some fond memories of Paris, and perhaps shed some light on that wonderful book we’ve both enjoyed so much, Paula. Thank you for absolutely making my day with your kind comment.

    • Is that you, John?! How wonderful to find you here. In your honor I’ll post some more photos over the weekend. Thank you so much for stopping by!

    • You really know how to make a person’s WEEK! I’ve been struggling a bit with my photographic self-confidence lately, so I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your kind words. Thank you!

      By the way, congratulations on your own beautiful photos from your newest subscriber. 🙂

  10. Your photos are beautiful! I love how you contrast great sweeping shots with close ups of the door knockers! I would love to visit Paris one day… I don’t think I would ever get bored of it either!

    • You are so kind, Shanon. Thank you for just making my day! I do hope you’re able to visit Paris one day — I think you would find it infinitely inspiring.

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