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Social distancing in Paris - Squares in the 2nd, 3rd and 9th arrondissements

Finding any green space when you live in the centre of Paris can be a challenge, and families often rely on squares to spend some time in nature or let the children play outside. Some of these squares can look quite luxurious while others are much more ordinary … and these are the ones that you are going to see today, nothing fancy, just a place for the average Parisian…. No, not all Parisians are posh. These tiny parks bear the names of someone deserving some recognition.

For instance, in the 2nd arrondissement, the square Jean Bidault, (probably one of the smallest one in Paris) was named after the general secretary of the town hall of the 2nd arrondissement and a member of the French Resistance during WW2 and died in 1944 in a concentration camp.

Another urban park in the 3rd arrondissement commemorates the deported Jewish school children around Paris, alongside the rest of the Jewish community in the Capital City. It contains many specific species of plants and its main feature is a pond with a few families of ducks entertaining the tourists by their presence. It is named after Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who was transferred to a French orphanage after his liberation from Buchenwald and later on studied at the Sorbonne before moving to the United States in 1955.

Further North, in the 9th arrondissement, another park commemorates the Parisian working classes, who used to live and work in that area in the late 19th century (As described by Emile Zola in "L'Assommoir"... but let's keep this for another day). The most interesting feature is a 1913 sculpture celebrating working women by a sculptor called Lorieux. Its title is “La Sainte Catherine”, and refers to a tradition that developed among the working classes at that time. If a woman was 25 on November 25th (day of St Catherine), she had to wear a hat (which became more and more elaborate over the years) and a big party was thrown as a last opportunity to find a husband. The park was named after Nicolas de Montholon, a legal adviser who lived locally in the 18th century. Now, it is popular with families and local youth.

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