Joan of Arc statue in Paris near the Louvre museum: a surprising story

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Joan of Arc statue in Paris near the Louvre museum: a surprising story

Have you heard of the famous Joan of Arc statue (Jeanne d’Arc in French), near the Louvre museum? Located in the place des Pyramides in the First district of Paris, this equestrian statue has a surprising story that we will tell you all about.

A story that begins in the nineteenth century

For centuries, “Jeanne d’Arc” has been a French patriotic symbol. However, the story of the Joan of Arc statue near the Louvre has a mystery in its history. Indeed, it’s rooted in a sneaky plan a few years after its inauguration by the artist himself.

A bit of history: in 1870, France lost the war against the Prussian army (the actual German state). Napoleon III (the nephew of the famous Napoleon Bonaparte) is dismissed and it’s the end of the French empire. The third Republic is proclaimed and wants to give hope and pride to the French people. They chose Joan of Arc to be this hope symbol.

Joan was martyred by the English in the 15th century and her story has been well documented in history. Joan of Arc statue was depicted in an equestrian (on a horse) statue, a privilege normally only given to French Kings and military leaders, and that meant men-only. History changes slowly but requires a start somewhere.

» READ ABOUT –Team building activities in Paris in the Louvre district and the famous Palais Royal garden

joan of arc statue place des pyramides

They entrusted the work production to a famous sculptor during this phase: Emmanuel Frémiet. The Joan of Arc statue is inaugurated place des Pyramides in 1874, two steps from the hotel Regina, that opened later in 1900. The place is also quite a symbol. The story says that it’s would be a few meters from the place where Joan of Arc has been injured in 1429 when she was trying to free the city of Paris invaded by the English.

Archive image of the first statue, place des Pyramides in Paris, 1880

The second version of the Joan of Arc statue

Despite the good reputation of the sculptor, the Joan of Arc statue is criticized quickly. At that time, Emmanuel Frémiet is preparing a second statue to be erected in the French city of Nancy. He decided to modify the horse for this replica. Likely offended by all the criticism the artist is secretly working on a new version of the place des Pyramides statue. However, how could he substitute the two statues discreetly?

Luckily for him, in 1898, starts the construction of the Parisian metropolitan on Rivoli street (today called line 1, the first line to be constructed). The work is titanic and the street is unrecognizable, looking like a gigantic trench!

The Joan of Arc statue has to be temporarily removed. Later on, Emmanuel Frémiet took the opportunity and secretly replace the old statue by the new one. In order to hide even better the confidence trick, he covers the statue with gilding. And all the costs were on his expenses!

Joan of Arc statue paris

That’s why the Joan of Arc statue that you will see place des Pyramides is not the original one erected on the center of the square. Come see for yourself.

On a different note, but still about famous statues, cast a glance at our article about the statues of Liberty in Paris!

Photos credit: archives images and Booster 2 Success

Sources: Un jour de plus à Paris

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