Your safety and well-being remains our top priority.View our Safe Travels commitmentX
|||

Place St-Michel Fountain

One of the city's most well-known meeting places, the statue depicts the archangel Michael vanquishing the Devil.

TravelCurious Tip

In such a popular area, it’s easy to choose the wrong place to eat. Pop into the tiny butchery Maison David and watch the owner in action, then enjoy a coldcut and glass of wine

This fountain was built during the French Second Empire, and it is fittingly monumental. It was part of a broader reconstruction project overseen by Baron Haussmann, Napoleon III’s trusted urban planner. The statue depicts St Michel vanquishing Satan, and was a political gesture to quell the obviously sinful revolutionary fervour of the neighbourhood.


The final design bears a façade divided into four horizontal levels. Corinthian columns frame the central niche. It courted controversy in some pernickety circles of French society for its use of various coloured stones. Using a single colour was more the norm, but here they used red and green marble, blue and yellow stone, and bronze statuary, among others — it was outrageous.


Initially the designer had planned to install a feminine central figure symbolising peace, but Napoleon III wanted it to honour his great predecessor, Napoleon Bonaparte, with a statue. His political opponents choked on their tea at this suggestion and a compromise was made: it would depict St Michel wrestling with the devil.


This was also where, during the 1968 riots, students took up arms against the police. Or, if not arms, slabs of paving stone which they wedged out and tossed at the police. The police returned in kind with batons and tear gas. Students invaded the square a declared it an “independent state”. It did not stay so for long, but their actions triggered mass strikes across the country that eventually brought General de Gaulle’s government to its knees.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Paris
The Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter represents the essence of intellectual Paris, a place to unwind amidst the rarefied atmosphere of the 5th and 6th arrondissements.
Île de la Cité
This island in the middle of the River Seine is the historical heart of Paris.
La Sorbonne
Founded in 1253 to give impoverished students the opportunity to study theology, this is one of the world's most famous universities.
La Conciergerie
Once a royal residence, the Conciergerie became a prison during the French revolution, a notable prisoner being Marie-Antoinette.
Place-Dauphine
One of the prettiest, most peaceful locations in Paris, the square is a hot-spot for families, dog walkers and petanque players.
Shakespeare and Co Bookshop
A legendary meeting place and boarding-house for many aspiring writers. Stocks everything from Shakespeare to Joyce.

Related Tours

x

Guides

Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.

Partners

Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.