SQUARE DU VERT-GALANT IS AN ECOLOGICAL GREEN SPACE IN THE HEART OF PARIS:
At the western tip of the Île de la Cité, at the Pont Neuf end, is a little green space called Square du Vert-Galant. The square was named after Henry IV whose nickname was “Vert-Galant” (“Green Gallant”). The old king had a reputation of acquiring many mistresses in spite of his advanced age, hence his nickname.
Although the Square du Vert-Galant looks very pretty when you’re cruising past along the Seine, we would not have sought it out if we hadn’t taken a stroll across the Pont Neuf. Of the many Paris bridges across the River Seine, Pont Neuf is the oldest. Not only does it perform the function of linking the left bank and right bank of Paris to the Île de la Cité, the bridge itself is a tourist attraction.
Square du Vert-Galant
Near the middle of the bridge is the equestrian statue of Henri IV (he built the bridge) and a steep set of steps leads down to the park as well as to a pier where the “Vedettes de Paris” Seine river cruises take off. The Square du Vert-Galant is a pretty park and its array of flora and wildlife here has earned it an ecological green space award. In the square you can find chestnut trees, weeping willow, gingko biloba, apple flower, etc. and its wildlife include herring gulls, ducks, swans and many other birds which is impressive, considering it’s right in the centre of Paris.
Discovering the Square du Vert-Galant and Pont Neuf
It was a sunny day and there were locals were picnicking in the park and some office workers sunning themselves during the lunch break. With its idyllic setting, the Square is also a popular spot for romantic strolls, with couples probably ignoring the plaque on the wall of the bridge, marking the spot where the highest dignitary of the Order of the Temple was executed.
Order of the Templars
Jacques de Molay was the last Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar. He was arrested in 1307, on orders of Philip the Fair, who had accused the Templars of heresy (Philip the Fair really wanted to curb their power and steal their appreciable assets).
According to the plaque, Jacques de Molay was burnt at the stake at this sight on March 18, 1314, although there is another plaque on Place Dauphine with a similar claim. As de Molay was burning he cursed Philip the Fair and his three successors (all died in bad circumstances).
We enjoyed the film series, “Les Rois Maudites” (“The Accursed Kings”) and thought this was an interesting find. Tony even had a go at cursing Philip the Fair.
If you are in the vicinity of Pont Neuf, do visit Square du Vert-Galant and enjoy Henri IV’s green space.