Oldest Tree in Paris – Rene de Viviani Square

Located in Place de Rene de Viviani Montebello (named after the Prime Minister of France during the 1st year of WWI)  next to the Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre Church, this is the oldest tree in Paris and perhaps one of the oldest planted trees in the world. Back in the 16th century many of the forests had been cleared to make way for the big city and in an attempt to introduce greenery to the urban environment the King’s gardener and herbalist started planting seeds in Paris. The gardener, Jean Robin,  planted seeds brought from America and England, some of the trees survived and others weren’t so lucky. The species of tree introduced to Europe by Robin later took his name, becoming Robinia Pseudoacacia, a fast growing, relatively short and sturdy species which is a variation of the Locust Tree.

This particular tree planted in 1602, making it over 400 years old, has survived despite being hit by a shell in WWI. Like most old living things the tree needed a bit of support and a few years ago was injected with cement and given a cement column to lean on. The old tree is well-kept and cared for by the city gardeners. A traditionally made hand-woven chestnut branch bench has been made to encircle the base of the tree. A perfect place to sit and contemplate the passing of time.

While in the square you can also see the sculpture in memory of the 11,000 infants deported from France to concentration camps by the Nazis during WWII. The square has had a colorful history including having been used as a cemetery, a hospital and for monastic buildings.

The square is located in the 5th arrondissement across the Pitit Pont from Ile de la Cite and opposite Notre Dame.

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