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The oldest tree in Paris


1.jpgSeveral steps from the Notre-Dame Cathedral, close to the Latin Quarter, just by the old Anglo-Saxon bookstore Shakespeare and Company on the small square René Viviani there is a tree, that has already seen and heard a lot, a witness of several centuries history. It is very old, bent, supported by the concrete, covered with the ivy leaves, surrounded by the old buildings of the Latin Quarter. In its shadow, on the benches around the tree, tourists eat sandwiches, take pictures, read a book, lovers enjoy the tender moments, people talk, relax.

Old „robinier“ (acacia), planted in 1602, gives the respect to the small square René Viviani. The tree shadow touches the church Saint Julien le Pauvre, dated from 6th century. Normands destroyed the church in the 9th century and from its ruins the new church was built in the 13th century. According to Wikipedia the name of the tree „robinier“ comes from the name of Jean Robin (1550/1629), a botanist of the king Henri IV, who brought it to France. The first acacia (black locust) was planted on the square Place Dauphine in 1601, but it is not there anymore. From this tree come two other Parisian acacias: one on the Viviani square and the other planted in 1636 in the garden Jardin des Plantes. The square René Viviani, the name of which rem2.jpginds us of the French politician in the years 1863-1925, was open to the public in 1928.

Ernest Hemingway in his book "Moveable Feast" described the arrival of spring to Paris, after a long winter, the end of which seems not to come, spring comes in Paris as a miracle, the magic of which has the same strength every year. "With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only truly sad time in Paris because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of youtitul.jpg died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason. In those days, though, the spring always came finally; but it was frightening that it had nearly failed. When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest."

And in March of this year, sitting by the old acacia, we have felt that the spring has come to Paris.

Mária Dopjerova-Danthine, Paristep


Preview of picture in folder Paris gardens | Jan Schinko jr.