Courtyard Gardens of Paris

I co-led a couple garden tours to Paris and wrote about them for HOUZZ. One of these articles is a couple years old but worth revisiting during April when I’m looking for an escape from the endless winter weather (see link at bottom of post). While Paris in late April isn’t too different in temperature from northern New England, its cultural sights and historic parks and gardens offer endless inspiration (and there’s always a cafe within a short walk). If you’re going, here are three of my favorite spots.

Courtyard garden at the Petit Palais

Courtyard garden at the Petit Palais

Above: shot around mid-April, the enclosed garden at the Petit Palais shows a flush of new growth. Set in a formal courtyard with ornate mosaic tiled pools, the planting design is loose and billowy with mounds of euphorbia, large leaved bergenia, and a mix of ornamental grasses which have been left standing over the winter and now will be cut back for the season. Reflections in the shallow pools give an Impressionistic feel.

Euphorbia surrounding pool

Euphorbia surrounding pool

Mosaic tile detail

Mosaic tile detail

Bistro seating outside museum cafe overlooks garden

Bistro seating outside museum cafe overlooks garden

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a mix of elements

Formality and modernism mix in this space surrounded by stone colonnades, sculpture, and ornate architectural detail. Foliage and form catch my eye in the garden and I love the verticality of the trees amid pillows of puffy chartreuse spurge. There’s also a big difference in light levels and heat intensity.

Above: a favorite spot to escape the crowds on Rue des Francs, Musee Carnavalet is a complex of mansions combined into the Paris History Museum in the Marais quarter. There are a couple different interior spaces to explore, each framed with boxwood parterres and filled in spring with the whiff of early roses which benefit from the hot microclimate of the stone buildings. Lovely and romantic.

Gardens at Musee Branly

Gardens at Musee Branly

And now for something completely different - near the banks of the Seine, the landscape at the Musee Branly designed by Gilles Clement is wild and rugged with all sorts of interesting shrubs and grasses planted en masse outside of a modern building. Parts of the building are covered in a vertical green wall designed by Patrick Blanc in 2004. Lots to experience here - I was happy upon seeing our U.S. native shrub Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea) doing so well in the middle of Paris! Every detail of this garden catches the eye. Small kids will feel engulfed in the greenery; you almost get tricked into thinking you’re not really in the city. These shots were taken in mid-July when things were flush and the hydrangeas in bloom.

For more about Paris here’s my article on Springtime in Paris for HOUZZ.