Tuesday, August 4, 2015


By Alison Vassallo
About two hundred metres from the apartment I stayed in was Place des Vosges, possibly the most beautiful square in all of Paris. Even though it was so close by, it took me a few days to find the time to go – so early one sunny morning I headed straight there.
It was around 7:00am on a Sunday when I arrived. There was no-one to be seen.
I couldn’t quite believe this. In such a stunning place in the city, if not the world, not one Parisian was there to admire the buildings, bathed in the golden morning light? Not to mention other tourists like me. I felt quite smug about this revelation, and happily strolled about while the perimeter of the square and walkways remained empty and quiet.
After all, it’s not every day you get to say you had Place des Vosges all to yourself. 

It didn’t take long though, before a handful of cafe workers started setting up wicker chairs out on the footpath, enjoying their first cigarette for the day; a truck stopping to deliver fresh bread and pastries with cheerful “Bonjour”s exchanged.. and a stern-looking lady walking her dog to share what had been my solo walk around the square.
Why are there so many serious faces in Paris? Madame, give yourself permission to smile…it’s not too shabby a place to be walking the dog on a Sunday morning!
Although I had a large brocante market to get to that morning, Place des Vosges in the morning light was too beautiful not to savour. So I decided to sit outside at a café just opened, and have a coffee and crêpe. Place des Vosges is not the place to come for inexpensive dining. But it’s worth paying a little more for the opportunity to sit and enjoy your morning coffee, watching the sun peek through the new spring growth on the trees, and listen to the square slowly come alive for another day.
Fittingly, in such beautiful surrounds, I was served my black coffee in an elegant silver coffee pot, with French porcelain cup and saucer, and my ‘crêpe au citron’. It was incredibly thin and light, with a tart lemon sauce and candied lemon on top, finished with a dusting of icing sugar.
If you are interested in making crêpe au citron, here is an authentic recipe & cooking video, thanks to Manu Fieldel.
I loved the windows of all shapes and sizes set within the slate roofs of the buildings. The red geraniums caught my eye and as I was admiring them, the windows were opened. Someone behind them enjoying the morning sun from their gorgeous apartment, sipping an espresso while reading Le Figaro perhaps?
The 17th century buildings surrounding the square are so majestic, I returned later that day to take a few more photos, and enjoy the gardens while having some lunch.
Through simple experiences like these, stopping for awhile and just enjoying being a part of the city, you appreciate the atmosphere of Paris. Much more so, I think, than spending hours queuing up at tourist attractions. It’s certainly not a waste of time spending a whole afternoon at Place des Vosges!

Alison created Bayside Vintage in 2011, an online store for authentic vintage, and blogs about vintage finds and French travels.  She lives Bayside in Melbourne in an old weatherboard cottage with her husband and their two energetic boys.  Alison’s passion for hunting down treasures has seen her scour flea markets through Paris and Provence.  Her vintage has been featured in publications in Australia, the US and Europe.  At The Beetle Shack she will share her thoughts on vintage in the home, take us on tours of some amazing markets, show us some tiny French villages, and talk a little about solo travel.


Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em