Did you know that some statues in Paris are believed to hold magical properties? For a long time now, a tenacious superstition has involved a statue of Montaigne in the 5th arrondissement. I went to see the statue to find out the facts for myself.
What makes the statue of Montaigne so popular ?
The statue of Montaigne is situated in a shady square in the 5th arrondissement opposite the medieval-looking Hôtel de Cluny (National Museum of the Middle Ages). More interestingly, the statue faces the Sorbonne university.
For many years, students have believed it was good luck to touch Montaigne’s right shoe before sitting an exam. By also greeting the statue with “Salut, Montaigne!” (Hi Montaigne!), the students were hoping the touch would bring success and the best of luck in their studies. Well, that day the only students I saw touching the foot were tourists learning a few Paris facts on a guided tour…
The statue of the French philosopher was originally carved in white marble. Due to the excessive number of touches made over the years, it was decided in 1933 to replace it with a more robust copy in bronze. This explains the bright polish of Montaigne’s right shoe. (the same feature is found in Dalida’s bust in Montmartre).
The present-day statue was created by Paul Landowski (1896-1961) in 1933 and represents Montaigne seated in a relaxed position. Now for the facts, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) was a French philosopher of the Renaissance era and a reference author for his intellectual insight.
The statue is located in the Square Paul Painlevé (5th arrondissement). The closest métro station is Cluny-la Sorbonne (line 10). The statue can’t be missed as there are often tour groups standing in front of it.
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