The Official Development Agency of the City of Vilnius

Romain Gary

In short

Head to the intersection of Mindaugo and J. Basanavičiaus streets to visit the famous 20th century French writer, pilot, diplomat and director Romain Garry (real name – Roman Kacew), who was born in Vilnius.  

You’ll find a statue of a tiny and fragile boy at the busy intersection near the house where the writer once lived. 

Don't be surprised to see a bouquet of flowers placed in the sculpture's hands, as residents of Vilnius often express their sympathy for him. It is the sole monument to Romain Gary, and has already become a traditional site for dates in Vilnius. 

Brief History

The sculpture is an ode to the writer’s autobiographical story featured in the book Promise at Dawn, which describes childhood in Vilnius and the writer’s fascination with the girl named Valentina. Fighting for her attention, the writer cut and ate a rubber shoe. 

Born to a family of traders, Gary went to primary school in Vilnius and took private language and singing lessons. Later, he took off to Warsaw and France.   

Before leaving for France, Romain lived with his mother in Vilnius, on W. Pohulanka Street 16. His mother designed women's hats and owned the women’s clothing store Maison Nouvelle.  

In Paris he had various jobs, studied law, and was even a pilot during the war. Later he became a film director and a diplomat, and from 1962 engaged only in creative work.  

The writer himself says that when he was playing in the yard, his mother sometimes told him to approach the window and look at her so she could admire his eyes. Therefore, the sculpture in Vilnius depicts the boy with his head raised high. Romualdas Kvintas made the sculpture after being encouraged by Romas Ramanauskas, president of the Romain Gary Club.  

Address:
Mindaugo / J. Basanavičiaus, Vilnius 03224Google Maps
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