Walking about the Place des Vosges in the early morning, criss-crossing the park before the dogs and the children arrive and people start spreading blankets on the grass for lunch, one encounters a haven of old-world serenity. The windows facing the park all around in those glorious brick and stone villas are mostly shuttered for the August vacation. But the vaulted arcades below offer an array of cafes, art galleries and boutiques, most of them open for business despite the summer doldrums. One even encounters a museum there, the former home of Victor Hugo comprising a vast suite of rooms featuring walls of porcelain plates and Asian knickknacks along with the novelist’s own artwork and various furniture he designed. Who knew the author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a weekend painter, an aspiring decorator?