Perhaps the least known public park in Paris, the square René LEGALL, is hidden in a maze of buildings behind the Gobelins whose workers' vegetable garden it once was. It was then called "ile aux singes" or the island of monkeys, because monkeys and other animals were kept free: the garden was surrounded by the two arms of the Bievre river and had only one access over a narrow bridge, called "le pont des singes".
When I meet Serge, one of the happy gardeners of this lovely park they ask me about the history which is unknown even to them.
The public park was created in 1936 when the state relinquished the ownership to the ville de Paris. It was renamed after the war in memory of René Legall, a counsellor of the XIII arrondissement, executed by the Nazis for his alleged involvement in the Resistance, in 1942. He was 43 years old.
Resistance is the theme of this park; in 1989 an oak tree was planted, symbol of freedom.
When I first stumbled upon this park it left a sad impression of unfinished business, of quiet deterioration, of fantastic hide and seek.
In the meantime the park's plants have grown and developed to form a uniform well-controlled wilderness. The park has a playground to one side, in the center a plot of tightly grown trees forming a small wood, and towards les Gobelins it has a rose garden.
It isn't easy to find the park, although the best way is by walking up the avenue des Gobelins and then walking down the rue Croulebarbe. Another way is taking the boulevard Arago and walking up the rue des Cordeliers; an artificial creek reminds of the Bievre and its not always glorious past, but the memory is being kept alive, for freedom's sake.