Résumé

The Square-du-Vert-Galant is located at the western tip of the Ile de la Cité. The level of the square is 7 to 8 m below the first floor of the nearby Pont-Neuf.

The Square-du-Vert-Galant was created by the reunion of several small islands at different periods.

Before becoming a square, the 2,665 m² were used for baths around 1765, and then a concert café in 1865. The latter was destroyed by a flood in 1879. In 1884, the State ceded the land to the city of Paris.

On the occasion of the inauguration of the Montreal World's Fair in April 1967, a friendly ceremony organized by the city of Paris took place. A stone from Île Sainte-Hélène (Montreal) was placed in the Square-du-Vert-Galant.

Today the Square-du-Vert-Galant is a romantic ecological square in the heart of Paris with a pier for a cruise on the Seine.

Localisation
  • square du Vert-Galant, Square du Vert Galant, Paris, 75001, France

Open hours

Free visit
Opening hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Access

Square du Vert-Galant
Place du Pont-Neuf
75001 Paris

  • Métro : line 7 (Station Pont Neuf) and line 4 (Station Cité)
  • Bus : lines 21, 27, 58, 67, 69, 70, 72, 85
Address

Square du Vert-Galant
Place du Pont-Neuf
75001 Paris

Coordinates Latitude Longitude
Sexagesimal (°, ', ") 48° 51′ 27″ N 2° 20′ 24″ E
Degré décimal (GPS) 48.85741 2.34026
Description complète

The Square-du-Vert-Galant is located at the western tip of the Ile de la Cité, in the Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois district of the 1st arrondissement. The level of the square is 7 to 8 m below the first floor of the nearby Pont Neuf and other parts of the Ile de la Cité. It was the natural level of the ground, that is to say very little above that of the Seine. This explains why it is easily flooded during the floods of the river.

Origin of Square-du-Vert-Galant: Henri IV again

The square owes its name to Henri IV (1553 - 1610) nicknamed the "Vert-Galant" because of his many mistresses despite his advanced age (always green despite his old age). The square is dominated by an equestrian statue of Henri IV, itself in bronze and greened/blackened by time resting on the Pont Neuf.

Successive uses of the space taken from the Seine

The Square-du-Vert-Galant was created by the reunion of several small islands including the Ile aux Juifs.  On the site of the Square-du-Vert-Galant, the architects proposed to proceed with large constructions:

  • In 1662, the architect Nicolas de l'Espine, designed a project, at the request of Sieur Dupin, aide to the ceremonies of Louis XIV, under the ministry of Colbert who was eager to magnify the surroundings of the equestrian statue of the grandfather of Louis XIV. The idea was to establish a sort of forum in the antique style, set up on the terreplein, which would have been enlarged and pierced, to the west, by a loggia topped by two obelisks. The statues of the great captains, who from reign to reign, valiantly defended the kingdom of France, were to be erected on the balustrade which would have surrounded the new square. A basin would have been dug behind the statue of Henri IV; in its center, the statue of Joan of Arc would have been installed on a pedestal. The king did not accept this proposal.
  • Before becoming a square, the 2,665 m² were used for baths around 1765, and then a concert café in 1865. The latter was destroyed by a flood in 1879. In 1884, the State ceded the land to the city of Paris.
  • In 1804, the architect Guy de Gisors presented a project for the creation of thermal baths which would have been named after "Napoleon I". It was a large building with four floors of arcades and two wings in return of square in the middle of which the waters of a fountain would have gushed out. The building was to house one hundred and seventy-six bathing cabins. It was also planned to build an open-air pool for bathers, which would have been accessed by a double staircase. The emperor did not follow up on this proposal. However, in 1810, the emperor launched a competition in accordance with a decree signed at the Schönbrunn camp: the idea was to erect an obelisk made of Cherbourg granite on the Pont Neuf, with the inscription "Emperor Napoleon to the French people"; the obelisk was to be 180 feet high.

The Montreal World's Fair of 1967. What's the connection with the Square-du-Vert-Galant?

On the occasion of the inauguration of the Montreal World's Fair in April 1967, a friendly ceremony organized by the city of Paris took place with the Canadian ambassador, Jules Léger, and his counterpart from the Quebec delegation in Paris, Jean Chapdelaine. The mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, was unable to attend and was represented by Léon Lortie and Jean Vinant, publicist for the Exhibition in France. A stone from Île Sainte-Hélène (Montreal) was placed in the Square-du-Vert-Galant. According to the author Yves Jasmin of La Petite Histoire de l'Expo 67, there were more than 30,000 spectators who attended this event, when the boat St. Laurent arrived on the pier where the stone was transported with the prefect of Paris.

A romantic ecological square in the heart of Paris with a pier for a cruise on the Seine

In 2007, the Square obtained the label "ecological green spaces" awarded by ECOCERT

  • Flora 
    The square is planted with 1,642 m² of chestnut trees, yew trees, prunus pissardii, black walnut trees, negundo maples, flowering apple trees, weeping willows, Bohemian olive trees, variegated sophora, catalpa, robinia, ginkgo biloba, burning bush and wig trees
  • Fauna
    Mute swans, a few ducks such as the scaup and the tufted duck, common wagtails and common sandpipers, great crested grebes and great crested grebes can be seen. In winter, there are also white-fronted coots, moorhens, herring gulls and laughing gulls. In 2009, it was even home to a large population of urban murids.

This Square-du-Vert-Galant has become one of the most popular places for romantic strolls where lovers can embark on boat cruises and enjoy a magnificent perspective on the Seine, the Louvre Museum and the Hôtel de la Monnaie.

And to finish with a retro image, the square is home to a Wallace fountain with pushers.

The Square-du-Vert-Galant is also a place of memory: the Memorial of the Templar Jacques de Molay

On March 18, 1314, Jacques de Molay, imprisoned for 7 years since the great roundup led by Philippe IV le Bel, was taken to the Ile de la Cité, in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral. There he was to hear the verdict of his trial, in the company of Geoffroy de Charnay, preceptor of Normandy, and two other Templar figures, Hugues de Payraud and Geoffroy de Gonneville. The sentence of the judges was life imprisonment for the crime of "heresy and obscene practices".

But, although he had never denied his confession in six years of imprisonment (probably because he had been tortured), the Grand Master protested against his conviction, declaring that he was not guilty of the crimes for which he had been accused and that he was the victim of a plot by Philip IV le Bel and Pope Clement V. These words are supported by those of Geoffroy de Charnay, his second in command. The two men knew that this protest would earn them a completely different condemnation: as relapses, they were no longer protected by the pope and had to be sentenced to the stake.

They were indeed burned alive that same day practically below the statue of Henry IV - which of course did not exist at that time. A commemorative plaque visible at the Square-du-Vert-Galant reminds us that it was on this spot that the "last Grand Master of the Order of the Temple", Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake on March 18, 1314.

But the history of the Templars does not end there...

According to the best-known legend(1), as he was dying at the stake, Jacques de Molay cursed his torturers, King Philip le Bel and Pope Clement, as well as William of Nogaret, who had arrested the Templars and brought them to trial:

"Pope Clement!... Knight William!... King Philip!... Before one year, I summon you to appear before the tribunal of God to receive your just judgment! Cursed! Cursed! Cursed! Cursed to the thirteenth generation of your races!

The rest of the story is that Pope Clement, already ill, died a few weeks later on April 20, 1314, King Philip the Fair on November 23, 1314, and Guillaume de Nogaret had already been dead for a year. On the side of the king's descendants (the Capetian branch) there were indeed many deaths among the descendants (but people died then normally, easily and young). As for the 13th generation, some historians say that Louis XVI, who died on the scaffold, was the 13th descendant after Philip le Bel. But in reality, if one counts well, the 13th generation would be rather that of the children of Louis XIV.

(1) This legend was maintained until the historical novel Les Rois maudits, written by Maurice Druon between 1955 and 1977. This sequel and its television adaptations contributed to the further popularization of Jacques de Molay and his curse.

The Square-du-Vert-Galant in popular culture

  • A famous photograph by Robert Doisneau, taken in 1950, is entitled Square du Vert-Galant. Eugène Atget and Marcel Bovis also photographed the square.
  • A large painting by Maurice Boitel from 1989 depicts the flooding of the Seine in the Vert-Galant at the end of the 20th century.
  • In 1990, the square also inspired Frédéric Marbœuf to make a short film entitled "Square-du Vert-Galant".
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  • July 15, 2024 10:21 pm local time

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