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Square du Vert Galant & the Seine River Weeping Willow

Last Updated on 1st March 2022 by Sophie Nadeau

Situated on the most Westerly tip of Île de la Cité, of all of my favourite green spaces in Paris, Square du Vert Galant is probably it. Best-seen from Pont des Arts, home to the most iconic weeping willow along the banks of the River Seine, and the ideal place to enjoy a quintessentially Parisian picnic, here’s how to visit Square du Vert Galant, as well as a history and things to know before you go.

Square du Vert Galant

A history of the Vert Galant Park

The green space can be found in the 1st arrondissement of Paris in the quartier Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois (each arrondissement is split into a further four ‘quartiers’) and is one of the best parks in Paris and is named for King Henri IV, whose nickname was ‘vert-galant,’ which is translated into English as “the old galant” because of his fondness of women and number of mistresses.

The Square itself lies seven metres below the other levels of the island. Originally, the entirety of Île de la Cité would have been this height, though this makes this area more prone to flooding. The location was not always a complete island, or even attached to the rest of Île de la Cité.

Instead, the square was created by the joining together of several smaller islands, l’île aux Juifs (where the last of the Templars were burnt) and l’île du Patriarche. You can read more about the forgotten and lost islands of the Seine here.

Prior to becoming a public park, the square would have been used as a location for public baths during the middle of the 18th-century. The space was then converted into a concert café venue in 1865, before this was eventually destroyed by a flood in 1879. Since 1884, the land has belonged to the city of Paris.

Today, the park is located just below Pont Neuf, which itself has a grandiose statue of the King himself. The park features a green enclosed space with several benches and chestnut trees and maple trees which is free to visit and is open 24 hours a day.

Square du Vert Galant, 1st Arrondissement, Paris/ square du vert galant picnic

Saule Pleureur de la Pointe

Surrounding the park is the headland of the Seine Quays, at the end of which lies one of the most famous weeping willow tree (known as Saule Pleureur in French) in Paris. Indeed, this particular weeping willow is magnificent in size and is known locally as Saule Pleureur de la Pointe.

My friends and I often joke that beneath this particular weeping willow is the ‘perfect spot for a first kiss’. What’s more is that from this vantage point, you can not only spy the likes of Pont des Arts, but also the façades of many an iconic Parisian structure, including the Louvre Museum, the Hôtel de la Monnaie, and the Institut Français.

Saule Pleureur de la Pointe Paris France

How to visit Square du Vert Galant

The Square is best visited on a warm and sunny day when you can hang out along the River Seine, perhaps enjoying a Parisian picnic and watching the world go by. You should note that this location is pretty popular with locals and so you might struggle to find space during the weekends or in the evenings, especially during the summer.

There are a couple of ways to reach the park. The main way to reach the park is by heading onto Pont Neuf (ironically translated into English as ‘New Bridge’, this is actually the oldest still standing bridge in Paris) and heading to halfway across the bridge.

beer square du vert galant

Opposite the entrance way into Place Dauphine, and close to the statue of King Henri IV, there will be a set of the steps leading down on the side of the river closest to the Seine.

Otherwise, should you continue along any of the quays of Île de la Cité towards their most Westerly point (i.e. towards the direction of the Eiffel Tower and following the flow of the Seine), you’ll eventually find yourself at the park.

It’s worth noting that whenever the Seine floods (which, if it floods, tends to happen in January or February if the Seine is going to flood that year), the Square is often immersed in water, meaning that it can no longer be visited.

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Square du Vert Galant, 1st Arrondissement, Paris

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Friday 17th of December 2021

[…] and chestnut trees and maple trees which is free to visit and is open 24 hours a day.” (Sophie Nadeau)  This is hardly a park it’s so small.  Nonetheless, it’s a great place to unwind and […]

Eric Cahill

Friday 5th of March 2021

wonderful place for a picnic , love to find it out.

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