Walk across the Pont au Double and you’re standing on the left bank facing the church of St Julien le Pauvre. Curious fact, the church is Melkite, their eastern catholics who follow the Byzantine rites in their service, and have a Patriach, but are still in communion with the pope.
If you cut around through the rue du Fouarre then in through a little gate there you find the eastern, and best preserved side, of the church with its three apses. Dante attended church here… or so the legend goes, and I choose to believe the legend.
Walk along the northern side of the church and if you have a very careful look at the wall of the north aisle (see below) you’ll notice that it it’s leaning out at the top! This is no optical illusion, the wall is bowing out due to the outward thrust of the choir vault and settling of the walls.
Turn and look back to the center of the square and you see a tree that is reckoned to be the oldest in Paris, well planted in 1602 anyway. The tree looks a little funny as a German shell tore the top off during WW1 and there’s two concrete pillars holding it up, but I guess if I was a 400 years old I’d need a bit of support as well.
Galina resting by the old well at the Eastern end of the church. The well lies on the location of the medieval colleges of Normandy and France.
If you look back across the road from the square René Viviani there’s also one of the best views of Notre Dame from the square. And while you’re taking a few pictures you could also reflect on the fact that you’re standing on an old Merovingian cemetary.
Wander across the street and right next door you find Shakespeare and Co. the most famous (and idiosyncratic) English bookstore in Paris.
There’s also some good restaurants on the same block, whose names all strangely start with ‘petit’. We had lunch at one, the Petit Pont I think, where Galina was quite impressed by the baked pastry salad bowls…