You might have seen the picture perfect view of Notre Dame in many online sites and magazines. Square Jean XXIII is the garden that extends from the South side of the cathedral and offers awesome view of the chevet of Paris cathedral. Of course, this is a must-see attraction of any Paris tours.
History of Square Jean XXIII
Many buildings previously occupied this site and the place looked much different from what we see today. There were many chapels, houses, and even the Archbishop’s Palace was here. However, the archbishopric that was built in 1697 was destroyed and demolished in 1831 by rioters.
French poet and writer Nicolas Boileau lived and died in a house on the Rue de l’Abreuvoir. His house stayed on the site, where Virgin Foundation is located now. There was also a street here, which disappeared in 1840 to give way to a garden. In the year 1843, the site was opened as a garden and was the first public district garden in Paris. It was later enlarged in 1911.
The Virgin Fountain
This fountain is located behind the chevet of Notre-Dame. The fountain was designed in 1845 by a sculptor named Merlieux and an architect named Alphonse Vigoureux. Romanticism was in fashion at the time and this led to the construction of many neo-gothic styled buildings in France and Paris.
The Virgin Fountain and its statue blends very well with Notre-Dame as both are made in the same style of architecture. There are three archangels on the bottom part of the fountain and the upper part is a spire that has the statue of the Virgin and the Child.
Today’s Square Jean-XXIII
This garden was formerly called as Square de l’Archevêché (Archbishopric Square) and was later renamed to Square Jean XXIII in honor of Pope John XXIII. The garden extends over an area of one hectare today and has many trees like spruces, linden trees, laburnum, Byzantian hazel, horse chestnut trees, and the last elm trees of the city of Paris.
A stroll in the park in spring will be a wonderful experience when the trees are in blossom. The first trees to flower will be the prunus and apple blossoms. In late April and May beginning, you can see the tamarisks flower along the Quai de l’Archevêché. So if you are planning to go on Paris city tours in April or May, make sure to add Square Jean XXIII in your must-see list, and while there, look for the sandbox surrounded by Japanese wild cherries.