Bonjour mes amis,
As I wander the streets of Paris, I often peek through gates and archways to see what lies inside the cours, the courtyards. Most Parisian buildings turn a stern face to the street which melts away into elegant, whimsical, or minimalist gardens as you cross their thresholds.
Sometimes you find a surprising palm tree, or a lazy cat curled up on a step in a pocket garden. Other times you penetrate into a large courtyard surrounded by low buildings. James Joyce wrote Ulysses in a peaceful apartment lent to him off just such a courtyard.
Or a courtyard a few doors away, which houses my favorite hotel in Paris and to which I take my guests on our tours. After walking down a long cobbled driveway lined with shrubs and flower boxes, it opens up into a charming garden full of carefully tended shrubs, trees, and even a bit of lawn.
Then there are the modest homes with a couple of window boxes and, one assumes, an equally modest garden, from what you can glean as you peak through the fence. And another, more splendid home right next door, that obviously boasts a veritable jungle of a garden behind its gates. And even a “crazy dog” to guard it, if you believe the sign.
There are the public gardens, such as the Champ de Mars, where the Eiffel Tower stands sentinel, with its allées of pollarded plane trees, looking elegant even in their winter nudity; and the Luxembourg Gardens, lush with its bowers of Autumn chrysanthemums.
There is a pocket garden gracing a Métro entrance and a large art deco formal garden in the courtyard of a fancy hotel on the Right Bank.
And the surprise of discovering an entire Roman arena as you peek through a doorway on the rue Monge in the Latin Quarter. Yes, bring your camera to Paris, but turn it outward, to all the surprising nooks and crannies where gardens, and their hidden gardeners, thrive.
I could go on and on about the beauty and surprises of Parisian gardens. But better yet, come with us and explore these gardens for yourself! Join us in June 2017 for our Papa's Paris Tour in which we meet Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Call for an individualized quote, 10% reduction if offered as a gift by Dec. 30: 914-909-5079.