Notre Dame is still closed at present but will be re-opening.
Restoration and building work is still ongoing due to the devastating fire of 2019.

Square Jean XXIII at Notre Dame

Located to the side and at the back of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Square Jean XXIII was named after a former pope, and is a tranquil garden with a fountain, numerous park benches and even a bandstand, not forgetting the flora and impressive views of the River Seine along with the famous historical monument situated here.

A bit of history

During the middle ages the land surrounding the Notre Dame Cathedral on the Ile de la Cite island was just waste ground, however, a beautiful palace called the Archbishops Palace was constructed that became famous for its grandeur and a garden was laid out by Gabriel Thouin.

Unfortunately, during the riots that took place in the French Revolution, the palace section was completely vandalised in the February of 1831, and was so badly damaged that it could be saved from demolition.
Madonna with Child fountain inside Square Jean XXIII
And so, the history of the garden starts to take shape.  It was Count Rambuteau, who was Prefect of the Seine from 1833 that decided that the area would be laid out as a garden and numerous sub standard houses that dated from the Middle Ages would be destroyed.  Yet this was initially opposed, although the plans went ahead, and it helped to open up the area around the famous Gothic cathedral in Paris.

The garden was started to be laid out in 1837, but it was not completed until 1844, when it was named the Square Archdiocese, and then one year later a Gothic style fountain, called the Fountain of the Virgin, was designed and put in place.

Then, when restoration works were being undertaken on the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral, Viollet Le Duc, who was in charge of these along with Lassus, built the rectory and the sacristy in 1850, which now join onto the pretty garden.

Not much has changed within this square in Paris since that time, although the name was changed to Square Jean XXIII in honour of Pope John XXIII, who was the pope between the years 1958 and 1963.

About Square Jean XXIII

The Square Jean XXIII is a tranquil park and garden in Paris that has beautiful well kept flowerbeds and some unusual quirky features like cone shaped yew trees and an overturned flowerpot located on the south side of the Notre dame Cathedral.

There are numerous different species of flowers like white roses and apple flowers, along with plants and trees you can discover, such as Indian chestnut, yew and cherry trees, blue spruce, a silk tree, the ivy that trails over the wall going down to the River Seine, and a Hungarian Oak, which was planted in 1998 in honour of the Archbishop Denis-Auguste Affre.

However, there is also an abundance of wildlife within the Square Jean XXIII, and for those of you who are passionate ornithologists, this is a favourite place of observation for pairs of kestrels that nest here.

And by getting away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds at the front of the cathedral, you can wander through the Square Jean XXIII by the River Seine, take a seat and relax under the trees on one of the many park benches, or perhaps enjoy listing to music being played within the bandstand.
Southern side of Square Jean XXIII
Bandstand inside Square Jean XXIII
Yet, this square in Paris also has a couple of other surprises.  The first is the Fountain of the Virgin, which is sometimes referred to as the Fountain of the Archdiocese, and although this was only sculpted in 1845, it is in a Gothic style to match that of the cathedral.  And by going to the eastern end of the garden, you can get a fabulous view of this fountain along with the famous flying buttress supports of the Notre Dame de Paris as a backdrop.

You will also be able to discover a bust of Carlo Goldoni who was an Italian playwright and librettist that died in Paris in 1793.  And this statue was placed in the Square Jean XXIII on the bicentenary of his birth, with an inscription on the base, which is in Italian stating it was a gift to the city of Paris in 1906.

Visiting Square Jean XXIII

You will find the Square Jean XXIII located in the 4th Arrondissement of Paris on the Ile de la Cite next to the Square de l’Ile de France at the eastern end of the island by the Rivere Seine.

And this garden is situated on the south side of the Notre Dame de Paris where you can see its impressive South Rose Window, plus it travels round the back of the cathedral where you can see the fountain and the incredible Gothic architecture including the flying buttress supports of this historical building that is now over 850 years old.
Carlo Goldoni bust inside Square Jean XXIII
Now Square Jean XXIII is only open from around 9am through to 6pm, although the times are slightly longer during certain times of the year, and you may be pleased to know that it is accessible to the disabled, yet we would like to point out that dog walking or playing ball games is not allowed within this square and garden in Paris.

Now when it comes to getting to the Square Jean XXIII, you can cross the River Seine via walking, cycling such as on the Velib rental bikes or by motorised vehicle by going over the Pont de l’Archeveche, which is also now referred to as the Lovers Bridge in Paris.

However, the nearest Metro station is the Cite stop located virtually in the middle of the Ile de la Cite serving line 4 or on the left bank of the River Seine you have the Maubert - Mutualite stop serving Line 10 and on the right bank facing the Ile Saint Louis you have the Pont Marie stop serving line 7.

Yet the nearest RER train station is called the Saint-Michel - Notre Dame stop that serves the RER B and RER C lines, which is also a Metro stop for line 4, but there are also the bus tours such as l’OpenTour, along with the Batobus water bus that also have stops very close to this square.

Other means of public transport include the Buses via line 24 by the Pont de l'Archeveche and lines 67, 69, 75, 76 and 96 at the Hotel de Ville accessed by crossing the Pont d'Arcole, plus there is a bus stop on the island serving line 47 along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via lines N15 and N22.