An international scholarly online history journal on First and Second Empire subjects: articles, bibliographies, book reviews, in english and in french




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Square Louvois - 2292 square yards (1925 square metres)


This square facing the Bibliothèque Nationale was inaugurated at the same time as the Solférino bridge on August 15, 1859 on the occasion of Napoleon III's celebration. The square's simple design is laid out around the lovely Fountain of the French Rivers built in 1839 by the architect Visconti and the sculptor Klagmann.

Square Emile-Chautemps - 4714 square yards (3960 square metres)


An August 23, 1858 order announced the creation of the Square Emile-Chautemps, previously known as the Square des Arts et Métiers. It was designed during construction carried out in the wake of work done four years prior to the building of the Boulevard de Sébastopol. After its inauguration, the journal L'Illustration characterized it by saying, "It belongs to the category we could call noble." And in this respect, the square's organisation is typical of formal gardens. Divided into equal sections, the garden emphasises symmetry with orderly alleys lined with chestnut trees and two oval pools decorated with bronze sculptures. These bronze figures were designed by Davioud and sculpted in 1860. To the left, across from the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, allegories of Agriculture and Industry are the work of the sculptor Gumery (1827-1871). To the right, Mercury and the Music are by Ottin (1811-1867). The ornamental patterns were designed by Liénard.
The Square Emile-Chautemps is particularly noteworthy not only for its layout, but also for its monuments. In the middle, a commemorative column of Jura granite was erected in honour of the Second Empire's victorious armies. The base portrays four major triumphs of the Crimean War: Alma (September 20, 1854), Inkermann (November 5, 1854), Tchernaïa (August 16, 1855) and Sébastopol (September 8, 1855).
Facing the square, the Théâtre de la Gaîté Lyrique provides an excellent example of Second Empire architecture. Built in 1862 by Hittorff and Cuzin to replace the Théâtre de la Gaîté on the Rue du Temple, the theatre was under the direction of Offenbach from 1873 to 1875. The façade is decorated with composite pilasters which frame the five arcades, mounted with red marble columns, on the first story.

Square du Temple - 9482 square yards (7965 square metres)


Opened to the public in 1857, the square occupies part of what was once the medieval Knights Templars' precinct, sadly transformed into a state prison from 1792 to 1808. Louis XVI and his family were held here during the French Revolution. In 1809 Napoleon gave orders to destroy much of the fortress, and the Temple tower was knocked down in 1811. All the buildings were demolished to make way for the present-day square. The Square du Temple is a small English garden - almost an arboretum with all the rare species it houses - and includes many characteristic elements of the Second Empire: a man-made ornamental pond lapping over rocks from Fontainebleau, a gate designed by Davioud, a "public convenience" and a bandstand. Of note is the stone statue of the poet and cabaret singer Béranger, a work by a contemporary sculptor named Lagriffoul.

Square des Innocents - 1036 square yards (870 square metres)


Incorrectly dubbed a garden square, the Place des Innocents is more of a mall, that is, a space reserved for strolling. Built in 1860 during construction of the nearby Halles, this square owes its name to the Cemetery and Church of the Innocents destroyed at the end of the XVIIIth century. The square was lined with lime trees bordering the Fontaine des Innocents, a Renaissance masterpiece by Pierre Lescot and Jean Goujon. Davioud had the fountain moved from its initial location on the Rue Saint-Denis and placed in the middle of the Square des Innocents, atop a stairway of surrounding pools. The tactic is remarkable - instead of drowning the monument in greenery, the architect chose to set it off in a sparse, open space punctuated by the regularity of the tree-lined border.

Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques - 7162 square yards (6016 square metres)


This square, first to be opened to the public in 1856, is the only one whose genuinely square layout merits its title. Strategically located at the crossroads of Paris, the square was born of the major urban construction that turned the neighbourhood upside down during the Second Empire - from the inauguration of the Place du Châtelet to the extension of the Rue de Rivoli and the creation of the Boulevard de Sébastopol. During the Queen Victoria's visit to Paris for the 1855 World Fair, Haussmann gave her a guided tour of the construction site, proudly displaying the first Parisian square directly inspired by an English model. Like a precious box surrounding the Tour Saint-Jacques - the only remaining vestige of the church of the same name, destroyed in 1797 - the square marks the place that was once the rallying spot for pilgrims headed for Compostella. The Tower was restored by the architect Ballu over the period 1854 to 1858, and a statue by Cavelier portraying Pascal was erected under the keystone to pay tribute to the philosopher who carried out barometric experiments there in 1648.

Square Paul Langevin - 5152 square yards (4328 square metres)


Built in 1868, this square is guarded by a high wall that supports the buildings of the old and prestigious Ecole Polytechnique engineering school. Originally dubbed "Square Monge" after the renowned mathematician who taught at Polytechnique, the square was renamed in honour of the physicist Paul Langevin. A monumental staircase overflowing with viburnum plants creates a mesmerising, tumbling green sculpture.

Square de l'Observatoire:


Jardin Robert-Cavelier-de-la-Salle - 2.8 acres (1.12 hectares)
and [Jardin Marco-Polo] - 2.7 acres (1.09 hectares)
These two gardens were created in 1867 between the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Observatory. Their location covers part of the old Vauvert castle which was said to be haunted by the devil. The expression "aller au diable Vauvert" grew out of visitors' dread of this isolated spot in the garden and thus came to be used for situations in which one found himself in "the middle of nowhere". Each of the two gardens is planted with four rows of majestic chestnut trees, pruned into a green canopy, and both are decorated with flower beds surrounding statues by the most famous sculptors of the Second Empire: La Nuit (Night) by Gumery and Le Crépuscule (Dusk) by Crauk in the Jardin Cavelier-de-la-Salle; Le Jour (Day) by Perraud and L'Aurore (Dawn) by Jouffroy in the Jardin Marco-Polo. The garden's outstanding perspective culminates in the celebrated Fontaine des Quatre Parties du Monde. This collective work portraying the four continents was sculpted in bronze under Davioud's supervision, and is especially noteworthy for the upper section erected by the master sculptor Carpeaux.

Square Boucicaut - 8574 square yards (7202 square metres)

Built in 1870 and inaugurated in 1873, the square owes its name to Aristide Boucicaut, the pioneer of the Bon Marché department store that inspired Zola's Le Bonheur des Dames. It is located on the site that once housed the former leper-house of the Saint-Germain-des-Près Abbey.

Square Samuel Rousseau - 2078 square yards (1746 square metres)


Built across from the Basilique Sainte-Clotilde in 1857, the Square Samuel Rousseau was, like many squares, designed to glorify the neighbouring monument. Planted on what was once the Dames de Bellechasse Convent courtyard, the square is a particularly calm spot in the heart of Paris.

Square Santiago du Chili - 4220 square yards (3545 square metres) and Square d'Ajaccio - 5324 square yards (4472 square metres)


These two squares flank the Hôtel des Invalides on either side. They were planted in 1865.

Square Louis XVI - 4981 square yards (4184 square metres)


Planted in 1865, a year after the Boulevard Haussmann was built, this square sits on what was once the Madeleine cemetery where Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were buried after being executed. During the Restoration period, Louis XVIII had the couple's relics moved to the Basilique de Saint-Denis and commissioned Fontaine, Napoleon I's favourite architect, to erect a memorial known as the Chapelle Expiatoire. The square harmoniously surrounds the monument and offers shade with its magnificent clusters of trees.

Square Marcel Pagnol - 4481 square yards (3764 square metres)


Created in 1867 and formerly known as the Square Laborde, the Square Marcel Pagnol is located next to the Eglise Saint-Augustin which was begun in 1860 by Baltard. Much of the site was renovated and re-laid with paving stones laid in 1969.

Square des Batignolles - 4 acres (1.66 hectares)


Like the Square du Temple, this green space is an exception to the rule as far as squares designed by Alphand are concerned. Planted as an English landscape garden in 1862, the Square des Batignolles differs from others in its large dimensions and its remarkable layout including a waterfall, a river, a lake and rare trees. However the square did not receive unanimous acclaim when it was inaugurated. Unlike in England, the spirit of the day in France was less interested in lawn games and more preoccupied with lawn maintenance. Lush green spaces were thus forbidden to visitors and ornamental ponds were built, considerably reducing room for strolling and play. Despite its beauty, the Square des Batignolles soon proved to be poorly adapted to the surrounding working-class neighbourhood. Luckily, children are now allowed to play on the lawns. Also noteworthy are several Oriental plane trees dating back to the square's creation.

Square Berlioz - 1068 square yards (897 square metres)

Formerly known as the Square de Vintimille, it was created in 1859 and completely renovated in 1990-1991.

Square de la Trinité - 3767 square yards (3164 square metres)


Among the drastic changes made in the neighbourhood during the Second Empire, the Square de la Trinité and the church of the same name were designed as a viewpoint and the culmination of perspective lines leading up from the Chaussée-d'Antin. Planted in 1865, the oval-shaped haven was furnished with a fountain by Ballu, the architect who built the adjacent church. The design is based on the number three, mirroring the trinity honoured by both the church and square. Ballu's three triple-basin fountains are thus situated along the same axis as the three bays of the church vestibule. Above the fountains there are three groups of sculpture by Duret portraying Faith, Hope and Charity. The garden too is structured around three lawns.

Square Montholon - 5178 square yards (4350 square metres)


Built in 1863, this square is bordered by four streets which also bear witness to the heritage of Haussmann's newly-designed Paris. Rue Mayran, Rue Rochambeau and the Rue Pierre Semard were created in 1862 while the section of the Rue Lafayette running along the front of the square was inaugurated in 1859. The Rue Lafayette was subsequently extended to intersect with the Chaussée-d'Antin in 1862. Battered by the weather and construction work for an underground parking lot, the Square Montholon was completely rebuilt in 1971. All that remains of the original square are the wrought-iron gates and two enormous Oriental plane trees over one hundred years old.

Square Saint-Vincent-de-Paul - 2357 square yards (1980 square metres)


This pretty square at the foot of the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church was inaugurated in 1867. Laid out on a steep slope in the period 1824-44, the square provides a lovely setting for the large stairway (built by Lepère and Hittorff) which leads up to the church.

Square de la Chapelle - 1694 square yards (1423 square metres)

Located just east of the Place de la Chapelle, this square was created in 1862. Remodelled in 1986, it was named after Louise de Marillac who worked closely with Saint Vincent de Paul.

Square monseigneur Maillet - 3625 square yards (3045 square metres)


This square was built in 1863 adjacent to the Place des Fêtes, a site where the festivities of the Belleville Commune were held. The village feel of the neighbourhood was completely destroyed in the early 1970's and the square was redesigned in 1971. It was recently renovated and is now a pleasant refuge from the harsh neighbouring urban landscape.

Square Ferdinand Brunot - 4693 square yards (3942 square metres)

This square was erected in 1862 on land that was once the town of Montrouge, facing the 14th arrondissement's City Hall built by the architect Naissant from 1852 to 1855.

Square Lamartine - 1920 square yards (1613 square metres)

Inaugurated in 1862 this square was named after the poet Lamartine who lived nearby.



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