Square René Viviani
The Square René Viviani (Official French name: Square René Viviani-Montebello) is a public square adjacent to the Church of Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre
Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, in full Église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre , is a Melkite Greek Catholic parish church in Paris, France, and one of the city's oldest religious buildings...

 in the fifth arrondissement of Paris.


The Square René Viviani is located to the north of the Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre church, which is a Melkite Greek Catholic
Melkite Greek Catholic Church
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. The Melkites, Byzantine Rite Catholics of mixed Eastern Mediterranean and Greek origin, trace their history to the early Christians of Antioch, Syria, of...

 parish church
Parish church
A parish church , in Christianity, is the church which acts as the religious centre of a parish, the basic administrative unit of episcopal churches....

 resident in one of the oldest religious buildings in the city. The square is an irregular polygon in shape, bounded by the Rue Galande and church buildings to the south; by the Rue Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre on the west; by the Quai de Montebello to the north; and by the Rue Lagrange and the Rue du Fouarre on the east. The Rue de la Bûcherie
Rue de la Bûcherie
Rue de la Bûcherie is a street in Paris, France.- History :Near the cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris and the Place Maubert, between La Seine and Boulevard Saint-GermainThe Rue de la Bûcherie is one of Paris' oldest Rive Gauche streets....

 ends on the western side of the square, but it resumes its course on the eastern side, and the Pont au Double
Pont au Double
-Location:The bridge links the 4th and 5th arrondissements of Paris, from the Île de la Cité to the quai de Montebello.Bridge location on the Seine:Downstream: Petit PontUpstream: Pont de l'Archevêché- History :...

, a bridge to the Île de la Cité
Île de la Cité
The Île de la Cité is one of two remaining natural islands in the Seine within the city of Paris . It is the centre of Paris and the location where the medieval city was refounded....

, lies across the Quai de Montebello from the square. The Square René Viviani offers one of the best views of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in all of Paris.

Around the corner, in the Rue Bûcherie, stands the well-known English-language bookshop, Shakespeare and Company
Shakespeare and Company
Shakespeare and Company or Shakespeare & Company may refer to:*Shakespeare and Company , an English-language bookshop in Paris, France; hosts the annual Shakespeare & Company Literary Festival in June....

, originally owned by the much-beloved Sylvia Beach
Sylvia Beach
Sylvia Beach , born Nancy Woodbridge Beach, was an American-born bookseller and publisher who lived most of her life in Paris, where she was one of the leading expatriate figures between World War I and II.-Early life:...


Inside the square, there are two features, other than the lawns, walkways, well-trimmed plane trees, and benches, that deserve a mention here. There is an odd-looking fountain, known as the Saint Julien fountain, that was erected in 1995. It is the work of the French sculptor, Georges Jeanclos (1933-1997), and it is emblematic of the legend of St. Julien the Hospitaller, a tale, now largely discounted, involving a curse by witches, a talking deer, a case of mistaken identity, an horrific crime, several improbable coincidences, and a supernatural intervention. The story was told and retold during the Middle Ages, and it became a favorite. Consequently, hospitals, hospices, and churches all over Europe adopted Julien as their patron. He was also a patron saint of hunters, innkeepers, and ferrymen; traveling pilgrims often prayed for his help in finding comfortable lodgings.

The other feature worthy of note is an ancient tree that is surrounded by a circular curbstone. Its significance is described below.


Before 1909, this plot was occupied by one of the annexes of the Hôtel-Dieu
Hôtel-Dieu de Paris
The Hôtel-Dieu de Paris is regarded as the oldest hospital in the city of Paris, France, and is the most central of the Assistance publique - hôpitaux de Paris hospitals. The hospital is linked to the Faculté de Médecine Paris-Descartes...

, the ancient Paris hospital on the nearby Île de la Cité. In even earlier times, monastic buildings, dormitories and a refectory belonging to the Clunesian
Cluniac Reforms
The Cluniac Reforms were a series of changes within medieval monasticism of West focused on restoring the traditional monastic life, encouraging art, and caring for the poor. The movement is named for the Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy, where it started within the Benedictine order. The reforms were...

A priory is a house of men or women under religious vows that is headed by a prior or prioress. Priories may be houses of mendicant friars or religious sisters , or monasteries of monks or nuns .The Benedictines and their offshoots , the Premonstratensians, and the...

 of St. Julien, occupied this site. Earlier still, this place was a cemetery established next to a 6th-century basilica, the original Church of St. Julien. Merovingian-era graves and tombs were excavated near the walls of Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre during the nineteenth century. Some of the relics are now in the Carnavalet Museum
Carnavalet Museum
The Carnavalet Museum in Paris is dedicated to the history of the city. The museum occupies two neighboring mansions: the Hôtel Carnavalet and the former Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau...


Here and there on the square, there are odd pieces of carved stone. They are pieces of architectural rubble salvaged from the Cathedral of Notre Dame, when, during the nineteenth century, the exterior of the cathedral was partially restored by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc
Eugène Viollet-le-Duc
Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc was a French architect and theorist, famous for his interpretive "restorations" of medieval buildings. Born in Paris, he was a major Gothic Revival architect.-Early years:...

. Many of the most seriously degraded pieces of carved limestone were replaced by newly carved reproductions, and the older pieces were eventually deposited here.

The square is noted for being the site of the oldest planted tree in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. The robinia pseudoacacia
Robinia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae, native to North America and northern Mexico. Commonly known as "locusts", they are deciduous trees and shrubs growing 4-25 m tall. The leaves are pinnate with 7-21 oval leaflets. The flowers are white or pink, in...

, a species commonly known as a locust tree, is believed to have been planted by its namesake, Jean Robin (1550-1620), in 1601; if so, it has now been standing on the rive gauche
Rive Gauche
La Rive Gauche is the southern bank of the river Seine in Paris. Here the river flows roughly westward, cutting the city in two: looking downstream, the southern bank is to the left, and the northern bank is to the right....

for over four hundred years. It is presently supported by two concrete crutches. The tree lost its upper branches to a shell during World War I, but it proves its continuing vitality by blooming every year. Despite some speculation about its true age, it is universally recognized as the oldest tree in the city.

Metro station

The Square René Viviani is:

It is served by lines 4 and 10.

René Viviani

The Square René Viviani was named for the former French prime minister, René Viviani
René Viviani
Jean Raphaël Adrien René Viviani was a French politician of the Third Republic, who served as Prime Minister for the first year of World War I. He was born in Sidi Bel Abbès, in French Algeria. In France he sought to protect the rights of socialists and trade union workers.-Biography:His...

 (1863-1925), and it was opened for public enjoyment in 1928.

External links

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