Monday, November 15, 2010


They swoon and coo gleefully on the Square Montholon, one of the rare green spaces in the ninth arrondissement. The most charming of marble groups in all of Paris, La Sainte Catherine, honors the “Catherinettes.”  These were single women over the age of 25 who each year celebrated their patron saint's day by creating a new hat for the saint's statue to wear on her feast day, November 25.  The custom slowly faded except in the sewing industry, where haute couturiers and modistes celebrate Saint Catherine's day by making extravagant green and yellow hats for their female employees. Yellow evokes  either faith, or as some maintain, the aging white sheets in the spinster's armoire; and green the hope of finding a husband. Couture houses on Avenue Montaigne keep the tradition alive with a yearly  fête at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées--the comings and goings for which are a sight to see for lucky passersby.

Saint Catherine is also the patron saint of working women, to whom Julien Auguste Lorieux dedicated this sculpture in the south Pigalle neighborhood. Remarkable Louis-Philippe wrought-iron work and two magnificent oriental plane trees, a century old and 100 feet high, shelter this islet of calm. Square Montholon, 79 rue Lafayette, 9e, Métro: Cadet.

NB: The above text is a slightly revised republication, with permission, of a magazine sidebar I wrote and which appeared in France Today. The sidebar accompanied my article about south Pigalle.  

Text & photo ©2010 P.B. Lecron


  1. So atmospheric. Makes me want to see this sculpture when next in Paris. Thank you for highlighting it.

  2. Great sculpture in Paris, indeed.