Designed for teaching, resting or discovery, surprising or exceptional gardens are hidden in unsuspected places in and around the French capital. Five of these gardens are an invitation to go green.
The gardeners’ garden
Located just a few strides from l’Hippodrome du Bois de Vincennes, l’Ecole Du Breuil – which trains gardeners for the City of Paris – is widely open to the public. Labeled “Remarkable Garden” – a label awarded by the Culture Ministry – its garden is an exceptional botanical collection with its counterpart, l’Arboretum de Paris. Originally located near the Lac Daumesnil during the development of the woods commissioned by Napoleon III, the school moved to its current location in 1936. It owes its name to the professor of arboriculture who was its first director and continues the educational mission of its origins by adapting it to the new climatic or living preservation constraints.
The visitor can discover the didactic spaces (a market garden, a practical work area or shared gardens) dedicated to students, a trellised orchard, an open-air orchard where the greenhouses can only be glimpsed, but it is above all the collection of perennial plants in flowerbeds or the rose garden that catch the eye in season. A pond, a rock garden recreating different environments or the surroundings of a large basin with aquatic plants are all spaces that are conducive to wandering and discovery. A row of climbing plants mounted on metal supports leads to the fruticetum, a collection of shrubs grouped according to their color or blooming period.
l’Ecole Du Breuil, entrance on Route de la Pyramide, in front of the entrance to l’Arboretum de Paris, in the Bois de Vincennes. Free access. Practical information on ecoledubreuil.fr
A university campus
Facing the Haussmannian Parc Montsouris on Boulevard Jourdan, the park of the Cité Internationale Universitaire is one of the largest wooded areas in Paris (along with the Parc de La Villette and the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise). Free and open to the public, it provides a beautiful but fragile green setting for the 43 “houses,” originally inspired by the architecture of the English universities of the inter-war period. As a private foundation, the city now hosts several thousand residents, mostly foreign students. A legacy of history and the Cold War, the old colonial houses complement the absence of Russian or former Eastern European pavilions.
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At the foot of the Maison Internationale, a large lawn surrounded by imposing trimmed yews reminds us of the green carpets of English gardens. The double row of linden trees that crosses the park from east to west brings refreshing shade in the summer. Forests and groves, sports facilities, a shared garden, and remarkable trees occupy part of the 34 hectares taken from the former fortifications. Among the recent landscaping developments are the creation of an “evolving wasteland,” favorable to the development of biodiversity, and the implementation of “rain gardens,” real wetland areas forming a welcome ecological corridor.
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