This is also the departure point of the Pont Neuf tour boats if you fancy going along the Seine! (Swimming not recommended)
At the end of Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, there is a state of King Henri IV of France. He was nick-named Le Vert-Galant, meaning the go-getter, because of the great many mistresses he pursued right into his twilight years. Behind the statue, stairs take you down into the small but picturesque Square du Vert-Galant.
King Henri used to gallivant around this spot with friends, entertainers and women. As he liked to say, “Great cooking and great wines make a paradise on earth!” Another larger than life, virile male who liked a drink was also fond of the spot: one Ernest Hemingway. He used to relax here, watching the fishermen at work.
“They always caught some fish,” he wrote, “and often they made excellent catches of the dace-like fish that were called goujon. They were plump and sweet-fleshed with a finer flavor than fresh sardines even, and were not at all oily, and we ate them bones and all.” That is untrammelled enthusiasm by Hemingway’s standards, so it must be good.
One thing king Henri would surely have approved of is that his little garden, nestled in the heart of Paris, has become a popular spot for romantic strolls — and the odd proposal. The central lawn is flanked by an impressive number of green species, including weeping willows, tamarisks and lilacs, a maple and a Ginkgo biloba. Cut off from the bustle of the streets, it can almost feel like the countryside.
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