Thursday, May 05, 2016

Gardening, Paris-style

While last week, nothing topped a good hot chocolate, this week, nothing tops a Paris garden in springtime. Our weather turned truly spring-like this week, and we were able to shed the wool hats, sweaters and jackets (and for me, the wool base layers...). We visited lots of little gardens. They're everywhere, often tucked into recesses behind walls. I would turn a corner, and all of a sudden there's a little gate and I hear birdsong and the strong scent of flowers. I'm simply drawn inside these worlds of green, magenta, yellow, red and white as though I had no power to resist.

Austin has lots of little neighborhood parks too, but all pride about Austin aside, these little gems here in Paris simply put us to shame (excepting of course our Japanese Garden, which is a treasure in any season). I don't know who tends these gardens, but they are beyond magnificent. And they're everywhere!
Jardin de Voltaire

Almost daily we stroll past Voltaire's little pocket garden, on our street. Not a park you can actually go into, it's just a bright spot along the walk to the area around Place Buci, one of our favorite destinations for drinks, dinner and shopping.

Promenade Plantée
We strolled La Promenade Plantée last Sunday -- the first-in-the-world elevated park (the model for the High Line), repurposing a part of an abandoned rail line. About 2 1/2 miles long, it passes through two parks, Jardin Hector Malot and Jardin de Reuilly, while being a park itself. A triple-delight.

On the Ferris Wheel
A day later, we rode the Ferris Wheel, for splendid views of all of Paris. It's at the back of the Tuileries, a rather formal garden close to where we are staying. It's beautifully planted with beds of tulips, redbuds in bloom, lilacs, and pansies, daffodils and other winter bloomers (winter, for us in Texas).

Tulips in the Tuileries
Dennis goes on long walks each day, in the mornings while I'm in class and discovers things that we go off together to see in the afternoons. He hit the jackpot today! He orchestrated a "small garden tour" day just for me, a beautiful walk that took us to 3 of these small gardens and the Luxembourg Gardens, one of the most well-known in Paris. Two of the gardens flanked Le Bon Marché and La Grande Epicerie, rather over-the-top stores in Saint Germaine des Prés. So, we made the tour of those grand edifices as well. But back to the gardens -

Square Boucicaut

The first was Square Boucicaut. Flowers everywhere; birds singing; kids playing; Parisians lounging, relaxed, in the chairs and on the benches. The second, just a block or two away, was Jardin Catherine Laboure. Slightly larger, a little more elaborate (espaliered apple trees waist-high, in full bloom - can you believe it?), totally amazing.

Next was the Luxembourgh Gardens and I simply can't say enough about this grand example, certainly nothing that hasn't already been said.

Pictures describe Luxembourgh better than words anyway, so, have a look for yourself!

Our last garden today required a bus ride across the Seine all the way to the East Train Station. Jardin Villemin was just incredible. I was stunned upon entering to see peonies in full bloom, the size of a dinner plates. We don't have those in Texas, no we don't.

All day I've been hearing these lovely little birds singing their hearts out, but just never get a look at one. They must be tiny or in the very tip tops of the trees, or both. It's a nice reminder that naming a thing can often shut down curiosity about it. It's good to simply listen and enjoy, see and enjoy, feel alive and enjoy!

I hope your spring gardens are all blooming beautifully too.

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