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The secret gardens of Paris

Paris is one of Europe’s greenest capitals with striking parks such as Versailles and the Jardin des Tuileries. There are also many other hidden gardens nestled amidst the broad boulevards and ancient alleys: wonderful spots for a relaxed walk or a romantic picnic. You just need to know where to look.

Paris has more than 400 gardens. Many of them are a legacy of former president Jacques Chirac, who had countless forgotten squares and neglected gardens refurbished during his 18 years as mayor of Paris (from 1977 to 1995). These squares and gardens were transformed into green gems in the middle of the city. And in these little oases of flowers and plants, the inhabitants of Paris can take a break, read a book or chat with friends.

The green capital Paris
The green capital Paris

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Rugged nature in the heart of the city

Swiss calm

Next to the Palais de la Découverte, not far from the Champs-Élysées, is a sculpture of Alfred de Musset. To its right is a path leading to one of the best kept secrets in Paris: le Jardin de la Vallée Suisse. This Swiss valley, part of the Jardins des Champs-Élysées, is a wonderful piece of wilderness in the busy city. Dream yourself away amongst lemon trees, bamboo and lilacs to the soothing sound of trickling water as city life swiftly recedes into the background.

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Avenue du Général Eisenhower, Paris

The oldest tree in Paris

One of the most beautiful views of the Notre-Dame Cathedral is from Square René Viviani on Quai de Montebello on the left bank of the Seine. Among the plants, roses and benches in this small park is an acacia tree from 1601, said to be the oldest tree in Paris. The great fountain in the middle of the garden illustrates the legend of Saint Julian the Poor, after whom the nearby church is named.

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Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre church and the oldest tree in Paris

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Quai de Montebello, Paris

Royal gardens

Located near the Jardin des Tuileries, the Jardin du Palais-Royal is much less busy than its famous neighbour. This green oasis is surrounded by buildings on all sides, making the entrance easy to miss. The garden has a very Parisian elegance: two great lawns with colourful flowerbeds are separated by a lovely fountain, and the whole garden is surrounded by a hedge of perfectly trimmed trees.

There are scores of shops and cafés under the arcades of the palace. If you are looking for a romantic souvenir, visit the Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido. This shop is a dream which merges Parisian chic with Japanese refinement. Owner Serge Lutens, a perfumer at Shiseido, composes the most extraordinary scents here, many of which can only be bought in his own salon. Bottles can be engraved with your initials or those of a special someone.

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Le Jardin du Palais-Royal

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Rue de Valois, Paris

Photo credits

  • Rugged nature in the heart of the city: Klasse im Garten, Flickr