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"There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here, and if it became worse and harder even - the French air clears up the brain and does good - a world of good."

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90), Dutch painter.

Most large Parisian parks are not green like, for instance, London's parks. Rather, they're laid out in a formal manner with gravel pathways and avenues of chestnuts and other trees, and decorated with monumental statues and fountains.

Young Woman In Garden (Cassatt)

Young Woman
In Garden
by Mary Cassatt

They also offer many benches where visitors can sit quietly and contemplate the life that passes by. In addition to the historic parks noted here, you'll find numerous fenced-in squares hidden in every arrondissement, often with a small playground, a boules court, a few flower beds, well-trimmed shrubs, and large shady trees.

Direction des Parcs, Jardins et Espaces Verts de la Mairie de Paris

Service des Visites
3, avenue de la Porte d'Auteuil - 75016 Paris
Tel: 01-40-71-75-23 ; Fax: 01-40-71-93-56

Tours in gardens and cemeteries run by the Mairie de Paris, with specialized guides for groups and individuals (foreign languages on request). Special interest tours. Exhibitions. Programs on request. (Available also at the Paris Tourist Office.)

Wonderland In Paris: In the Jardin d'Acclimatation

"The Jardin d'Acclimatation is a park just for kids. At its longest it is just under 700 metres long, and at its widest it is about 250 metres across; so it is not small. It is located at the top end of the Bois de Boulogne, next to Neuilly, but its address is in Paris. The history of the Jardin d'Acclimatation is harder to come by.

La Quintinie,
gardener at Versailles
for King Louis XIV

Napoleon III sold or gave the Bois de Boulogne to Paris and the Baron Haussmann had his way with it. But nobody wants to mention the Jardin d'Acclimatation.

However, it is a very real place. Just inside the Sablons entry there is an open pavilion full of funny mirrors and opposite it there is a theatre. Next comes an enchanted river, hidden within its own park. You can take boat rides past water wheels; but I think the boats are pulled along by an underwater cable...." [and lots more in the article in Metropole Paris]
Extract from:

Entrance to the garden is 12 francs for adults and six for children. Kids under three, no charge. Other attractions in the park. Open all year. Métro: Sablons in Neuilly, Bois de Boulogne, Paris 16th. There is also a little train that runs to the park from Porte Maillot, from 11:00 to 18:00; 24 francs round trip. Phone: 01-40-67-90-82.

Gardens of Versailles

Spread across 250 acres, the Gardens of Versailles were laid out by the great landscape artist, André Le Nôtre, whose work here represents classical French landscaping at its most formal and sophisticated.

Versailles Gardens, 17th century

"Instructions pour les jardins
fruitiers et potager" (Versailles)

Le Nôtre created a Garden of Eden in the Ile de France, using ornamental lakes and canals, geometrically designed flower beds, and avenues bordered with statuary. On the mile-long "Grand Canal", Louis XV, imagining he was in Venice, used to take gondola rides with his "favorite" of the moment.

At the peak of their glory, 1400 water fountains played. The fountains of Apollo, Neptune, and Latona -- the latter with its statues of people being turned into frogs -- are exceptional. The park is at its golden-leafed best in autumn, but is also enticing in summer -- especially on Sundays when the fountains are in full flow. They become a spectacle of rare grandeur during the Fêtes de Nuit, light-and-fireworks shows in July and September.

An extensive tree-replacement scheme was launched in 1998 to recapture the full impact of Le Nôtre's artful vistas. The distances are vast -- the Trianons themselves are more than a mile from the château -- so you might like to rent a bike from the Grille de la Reine on boulevard de la Reine (near the Trianon Palace hotel).
SEE ALSO: News article " Versailles Opens Renovated Garden".

Biography of André Le Nôtre

Woman and Child Driving (Cassatt)

Woman & Child Driving
by Mary Cassatt

The landscape architect André Le Nôtre {luh noh'-truh}, b. Mar. 12, 1613, d. Sept. 15, 1700, was the creator of the French formal garden.

His earliest royal post was first gardener to King Louis XIII at the Tuileries in Paris, where he succeeded (1637) his father. As buildings inspector for the royal works (from 1657), he was responsible for all the chief royal gardens, especially those at Saint Germain, Fontainebleau, and Clagny, and for the parks of the chief ministers of King Louis XIV.

Le Nôtre's best known work is the immense park of the Palace of Versailles (1661-90), commissioned by Louis XIV and imitated throughout Europe. The principles of the jardin français , however, can be seen more clearly at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, where Le Nôtre worked (1656-61) in collaboration with the architect Louis Le Vau and the designer Charles Le Brun. Whereas the design of the typical Renaissance garden consisted of individual geometric units laid side by side, with a strong sense of compartmentalization, the gardens designed by Le Nôtre were unified by a dominant central axis that firmly controlled the movement of the spectator through the various lawns, gardens, and pools. He also made use of the lay of the land for optical effects, closing the vista by funneling the lines of perspective. He also channeled water from terrace to terrace as it passed through the various cascades and fountains. His spacious, elegantly orchestrated works epitomized the opulent era of Louis XIV and played a key role in the development of landscape architecture.

"The heart of Paris is like nothing so much as the unending interior of a house. Buildings become furniture, courtyards become carpets and arrases, the streets are like galleries, the boulevards conservatories. It is a house, one or two centuries old, rich, bourgeois, distinguished. The only way of going out, or shutting the door behind you, is to leave the centre."

John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic.

Edited by Ian C. Mills ©1998-2000 All Rights Reserved
Bibliography and recommended reading: Robert M. Neuman, Instructor, School of Art and Art History, University of Iowa, Iowa City -- Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia v9.0.1., 1997, Grolier Interactive Inc., Danbury, CT. In the Garden of the Sun King: Studies on the Park of Versailles under Louis XIV, Robert Berger, 1985, Dumbarton Oaks Publ. Service. André Le Nôtre: Garden Architect to Kings, Helen M. Fox, (1962). Gardens of Illusion: The Genius of André Le Nôtre, F. Hamilton Hazlehurst, 1972 (out-of-print). The World of André Le Nôtre (Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture), Thierry Mariage, Graham Larkin (Translator), John Dixon Hunt, 1999, University of Pennsylvania Press. Paris From $70 A Day, Jeanne Oliver, 1998, Macmillan Travel, A Simon & Schuster Macmillan Company, New York. Fodor's 99 Paris, Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc., published in the U.S. by Random House, Inc., New York. Eyewitness Travel Guides -- France, Editor: Rosemary Bailey, 1994, Dorling Kindersley Publishing Inc., New York. The Real Guide - Paris (Revised), Kate Baillie & Tim Salmon, 1992, Prentice Hall, division of Simon & Schuster Inc., New York (out-of-print). The TimeOut Paris Guide (2nd Edition), Penguin Books USA Inc., New York (out-of-print). Exploring Paris, Fiona Dunlop, Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc., New York. The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations, Robert Andrews, Columbia University Press 1993. Paris Tourist Office (web site).
Image sources: "Young Woman In Garden" (Cassatt), source unknown. "Woman & Child Driving" (Cassatt) , copyright Haddad's Fine Arts, from Picture of gardeners and courtiers at Versailles, from Volume 1 of "Instructions pour les jardins fruitiers et potager", copyright ENSP, courtesy of Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, 244, boulevard Saint-Germain, 75007 Paris.

Directory of Public Parks & Gardens,
Theme Parks, Walking Trails/Promenades, and Zoos












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