A sigh can be elicited by the thought of spring in Paris. The blend of fantastic architecture, history and outrageously good food makes Paris one of the most alluring destinations on earth, and garden fans who visit the “City of Light” in spring may enjoy expansive displays from the city’s many parks and public gardens.
In the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank to the hip and trendy Marais near the Bastille, it is entirely possible to spend a week going from one beautiful garden to the next, soaking up the sun in small corner cafés. Begin your day with a croissant and coffee, then venture out to explore.
One of my favorite places to visit is Musée Carnavalet, that the Paris History ministry, located in the old Jewish section of the Marais. Proceed through the main-floor galleries to get the interior gardens (free admission).
In 2 sunken courtyards, you’ll see formal parterres with gravel paths. Boxwood (Buxus sp) surrounds beds stuffed with a trendy mix of white primrose, creamy dianthus and pansies, Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria, zones 3 to 2) and purple tulips.
Hydrangea shrubs flanking this stone bench have only begun to leaf out, but detect that the swag rope made from twisted ivy against the courtyard wall. I love this tasteful detail.
This is one of my favorite places for escaping from the busy Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, which is usually bustling with people. The gardens provide a quiet location where you can sit and have a look at the very top traditional French garden design.
Flowering cherry and magnolia trees, quince and laurel shrubs bloom at the La Promenade Plantée, a 4 1/2-kilometer (2 3/4-mile) garden built in an elevated rail line linking Place de la Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes.
Steel arches support vigorous wisteria vines (Wisteria sp) and climbing roses, and create visual accents across the route. Forsythia brightens the opinion for now.
From over you get a bird’s-eye view of this white flowering magnolias (Magnolia sp) that line the roads.
La Promenade Plantée opened in 1993; it is a wonderful place to take in city views. It was an inspiration for New York City’s urban High Line, yet another garden at the sky that was formerly a defunct railway and is now a popular spot for city dwellers.
The Alpine Garden at the Jardin de Plantes has winding paths and a little stream bisected with footbridges. Access is through an underground tunnel from the Potager.
Early flowering shad (Amelanchier sp) and redbud (Cercis sp) bloom from the secure valley setting.
Rocky outcroppings show plants from the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Himalayas and North America from the Alpine Garden. Exotic rock paths are scented with lavender (Lavandula dentata, zones 8 to 10) and rosemary.
I discovered dwarf iris and yellow corydalis (Corydalis lutea, zones 5 to 7) growing happily together at the bottom of a stone wall.
Built for the World’s Fair in 1900, the Petit Palais includes a courtyard garden that is a must-see for its mixture of planting and architecture design.
These alloy French bistro tables and seats are extremely stylish. Get the look for your patio or covered porch by picking up a pair; they are widely available in fun colours.
The backyard’s plantings are textural and daring. Chartreuse spurge (Euphorbia sp) supplies a flush of vibrant colour around the pools; it is planted with many different ornamental grasses, which will provide contrast during the summer and autumn. Pink bergenia (Bergenia sp) are in bloom now along the borders of the beds.
You’ll find that the plant-covered Musée du quai Branlystrikingly distinct from anything else in town. Forget proper symmetry; this can be a wild, untamed living sculpture.
Designed by French plantsman Patrick Blanc, this vertical garden makes the building actually come alive with lush growth that is adapted to live in pockets of moist felt.
Just take a detailed look — ferns unfurl their miniature leaves, and also the ruffled crowns of coral bells (Heuchera sp) lend texture to the unusual composition.
Vertical landscaping is large these days. It’s simple to develop, accenting walls together with greenery using wall systems, now widely available. Why should a building be boring?
Now here’s a window box with design. That tall plant is horsetail reed (Equisetum hyemale, zones 3 to 11), an unusual decorative grass with jointed stems.
For a minimalist look that is similar, mass a vertical grass in a rectangular planter and border it with a tracking yearly.
Parisian houses are small by U.S. criteria, and many city residents live in old buildings with tight spaces, so plants in small containers can be found at each florist.
I seen those crates on the road after touring the Louvre — lemon thyme, cilantro, rosemary and white sea thrift (Armeria maritima) all herald spring with fresh scents.