Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oct 16, Part 6 - Paris: Square du Vert-Galant

The Square du Vert-Galant is a park at the very tip of the Ile de la Cite in Paris. It's quiet, and very strange-feeling. Strange in a good way. You can see both banks of the Seine, because it's like being at the prow of a boat in the river. In the seasons I've been in Paris, it's always quiet here. I wonder what it's like in summer? I can imagine people coming here to cool off. You enter it by going down a series of steps from the Place du Pont Neuf.

The park is historic for a number of reasons. Jacques DeMolay, Grand Master of the Knights Templars and Guy of Auvergne, the Preceptor of Normandy, were burned to death by Philip the Fair, King of France. The area at the tip of the island was actually built up from several pieces of ground with water flowing between them. It existed as a field of mud for some time. Philip watched the two men burn from his palace on the island.

At the moment, it's simply a nice park in the shape of a triangle.

Here's the "prow" of the island. The first bridge you see is the Pont des Arts, a metal bridge for pedestrians built between 1802 and 1804. It was the first metal bridge in Paris.

There's the other end of the Pont des Arts with the Louvre behind it.

Here's another photo of the Louvre (on the Right Bank).

The Samaritaine is just at the end of Pont Neuf on the Right Bank. It's a huge department store which opened in 1869 and features both Art Nouveau and Art Deco design. It was named for a hydraulic pump near that location that provided water to Parisians from 1609 to 1813, and had a bas relief of the Good Samaritan on it. The Samaritaine was one of the world's first department stores. It had to close in 2007 due to structural security issues, and is expected to open again in 2011.

Here's looking back at Pont Neuf and one of the tour boats that docks here. It may be a dinner cruise boat, I'm not sure.

From the prow of the island, we look back toward the passageway where we entered the park. Place du Pont Neuf and the statue of Henri IV are at the top of the granite wall at street level.

Over on the Left Bank side of the park, we get a view of the boats that dock on this side of the river. I've seen them every visit, and I think they're very picturesque boats. I'm not sure what type of boat they are, whether they carry goods or what. The first bridge is the Pont des Arts.

This photo was taken looking the other direction on the river. The bit of bridge you see is Pont Neuf. It's worth clicking on the photo to get a better look at the boats.

I think these boats and this dock area near the bridge are a really special part of Paris.

Now you can see the steps we came down from the Place du Pont Neuf. This area near the level of the river is all part of the Square du Vert-Galant.

I don't know what the faces stand for or who they're supposed to be, other than ornamentation. I don't know what the metal ring in the wall is about, either. Anyway, it looks historic and European.

This photo is a little out of context. We've stepped back into the park again to view the arched doorways where we'll exit the park. There are stone steps leading up to the openings, then you turn either right or left and climb more steps up to the street level and the statue of Henri.

Approaching the arches . . . look, they have large fake columns around them, making me think of temples in Egypt, which I've never seen, only in pictures. Note the plaque in the center.

Here's the plaque. It's another memorial to Jacque de Molay.

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