Place Joachim-du-Bellay square in Paris

The Place Joachim du Bellay is often known as the Square des Innocents and is a well known meeting point that has a fountain in the middle of it called the Fontaine des Innocents named after the church and cemetery that were originally here.

A bit of history

From the Middle Ages there was a church along with a cemetery called the Saint Innocents Cemetery, that had been in the area we know today as Les Halles, since the 9th century and although it started with individual graves, over time the cemetery became a mass burial place, as it was originally outside the city of Paris.
Place Joachim-du-Bellay Paris
Even though walls were constructed around the cemetery at some point around the 13th century to help against disease and a fountain was even erected on one of the walls in the mid 1500s, eventually in the 1780s it was decided that the cemetery was to close down due to health the problems.

This was indeed a very logical move, especially considering that a vegetable market was its neighbour, and so the many hundreds of thousands of remains were transported to the Catacombes and the fountain was dismantled but saved.

About the Place Joachim du Bellay

It was then in 1787 that the first stone square was created on the original site of a cemetery and was called the Place Joachim-du-Bellay, being named after Joachim du Bellay who was a French poet.
However, because this square in Paris was well known for what was here before, the Place Joachim du Bellay is very little known, even to people who live in the city, yet alone those that are on holiday in Paris, and therefore it is normally known as the Square des Innocents.

But it is actually the fountain now known as the Fontaine des Innocents, that has made the square such a popular meeting place and one of the tourist attractions in Paris that is visited by many thousands of people each year.

And in fact the fountain itself dates back to the 1500s, although at that time it was only three sided and was first placed on this square in Paris in 1788.  But we will take a look at the Fontaine des Innocents and its history in another article, as there is far too much to cover in one, yet it is now one of the recognised historical monuments in Paris that is visited by many thousands each year.

Yet during the major changes that were taking place throughout Paris under the influence of Baron Haussmann, a new larger square was constructed, still at the same site, yet because of this, the centrepiece of the Fountain des Innocents also had to be moved, but it still has water flowing just as it did centuries ago.
Place Joachim-du-Bellay buildings
Place Joachim-du-Bellay trees
And today, you will discover many shops and cafes surrounding the Place Joachim du Bellay, or Place des Innocents, along with skateboarders and rollerbladers, friends meeting up for lunch, not forgetting the oldest monumental fountain in Paris at its centre.

Access to Place Joachim du Bellay in Paris

As we have mentioned before, the Place Joachim du Bellay is often referred to as the Square des Innocents and it is located in between Les Halles and Chatelet.  It is within walking distance of many tourist attractions such as the Place Igor Stravinsky, the old Tour Saint Jacques Tower and the unusual Pompidou centre, often known as the Beaubourg.

Situated in the 1st Arrondissement of Paris, the Hotel de Ville and by crossing the River Seine, the Ile de la Cite island with the Conciergerie are also reasonably close at approximately 600m away.

And you can reach the square by Metro via the Les Halles stop on line 4 or the Chatelet stop on lines 1, 4, 11 and 14.