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Hidden Gardens of Paris: A Guide to the Parks, Squares, and Woodlands of the City of Light
     

Hidden Gardens of Paris: A Guide to the Parks, Squares, and Woodlands of the City of Light

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by Susan Cahill, Marion Ranoux (Photographer)
 

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For the seasoned Parisian traveller or the novice looking to get off the beaten track Cahill provides a roadmap to parts of the city most visitors will never see


In a city that is the destination of millions of travelers every year, it can be difficult to find your way to its lovely, serene spaces. Away from the

Overview


For the seasoned Parisian traveller or the novice looking to get off the beaten track Cahill provides a roadmap to parts of the city most visitors will never see


In a city that is the destination of millions of travelers every year, it can be difficult to find your way to its lovely, serene spaces. Away from the madding crowds, the gardens of Paris offer the balm of flowers, tall old trees, fountains, ponds, sculptures, with quiet Parisians reading Le Monde, taking the sun, relishing the peace.

These places are often tucked away, off the beaten tourist track, and without a guide they're easy to miss: The Jardin de l'Atlantique, out of sight on the roof of Gare Montparnasse. The enchanting Jardin de la Vallée Suisse, invisible from the street, accessible only if you know how to find the path. The Square Boucicaut, its children's carousel hidden inside a grove of oak and maples. Square Batignolles, the shade of the old chestnut trees an inspiration to the painter édouard Manet and poet Paul Verlaine.

Hidden Gardens of Paris features 40 such oases in quartiers both posh and plain, as well as dozens of others "Nearby" to the featured green space. It is arranged according to the geographic sections of the city—Île de la Cité, Left Bank, Right Bank, Western Paris, Eastern Paris—a lively and informative guide that focuses on each place as a site of passionate cultural memory.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Paris may be universally known as the City of Light, but based on this exquisite book it could just as easily be called the City of Parks.” —Chicago Tribune

“No matter how many times you have been to Paris, never go again without Susan Cahill (are you listening, Woody?) In our many visits there since 1957 my wife Judith and I thought we had covered all the known and not-so-known delights of the city. Only in reading The Hidden Gardens of Paris did we realize we had missed much of what had been hiding in plain sight. In her earlier book The Smiles of Rome she had worked the same magic, enabling us to return to the Imperial City in the company of notable writers whose experience in their time enraptures the visitor today. We have already started packing for Paris.” —Bill Moyers

“Whether you go often to Paris or are making your first visit, this is the guide you need. Susan Cahill will accompany you through the parks of this beloved city--from famous public spaces to secret gardens: a walk through the history and lore of Paris and Parisians, all in the open air.” —Shirley Abbott, author of The Bookmaker's Daughter, Love's Apprentice, and The Future of Love

“The secluded places that Susan Cahill and Marion Ranoux show us may have seemed off limits to the considerate traveller, anxious to avoid an invasion of French privacy. But this lively and informative guide gives one the confidence and the an overwhelming desire to venture into the Jardin Catherine Labouré and the Jardin du Musée Rodin, or, on the other hand, to tackle the Bois du Boulogne on the next visit to Paris.” —Elizabeth Cullinan, author of House of Gold

“As someone who likes to build a walk into her daily routine, this handy, informative little book helped me visit old neighborhood park and garden friends and meet new ones. And what's not to like about the gardens of Paris and the stories behind them?” —Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don't Get Fat

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312673338
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/10/2012
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
866,214
Product dimensions:
5.16(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.68(d)

Read an Excerpt

Hidden Gardens of Paris

A Guide to the Parks, Squares, and Woodlands of the City of Light
By Susan Cahill

St. Martin's Griffin

Copyright © 2012 Susan Cahill
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312673338

Hidden Gardens of Paris

ÎLE DE LA CITÉ
SQUARE DU VERT GALANT
ENTRANCE: from the Pont Neuf, descend the staircase behind the statue of Henri IV
MÉTRO: Pont Neuf
HOURS: 9-dark

Astride the Pont Neuf, Henri IV seems to welcome us to the Île de la Cité, "the head, the heart, the very marrow of the whole city."5 The leafy green triangular square behind the bridge is named for that lusty gallant on horseback who loved his city mightily, especially its wine, women, and good times. Once you descend the staircase and enter the square, Vert Galant presents a magical combination of delights: a strong, wide river, flowers and grass, a riverbank shaded with willows and a prospect of magnificent architecture: the Louvre on the right and the gold-domed Institut de France on the left. There's also, in early evening in all seasons, a fair portion of privacy, a promise of intimacy.

This romantic western tip of the boat-shaped Île de la Cité--the original settlement of the Parisii, a Celtic tribe subdued by Caesar--is a fitting introduction to the City of Light. For from the beginning, Paris has been an object of affection: (the Romans called it Lutetia)--Cara Lutetia, "my beloved Lutetia," in the words of the late Roman emperor Julian in 358 AD.6 As king, le Vert Galant Henri IV (1589-1610) declared his intention "to make this city beautiful, tranquil, ... desiring to make a whole world of this city and a wonder of the world."7 Such triumphs as the elegant Pont Neuf (the "new bridge" is the oldest bridge in Paris), the Place Dauphine opposite the bridge, and the Place Royale (later renamed Place des Vosges) show his genius as architect and urban visionary. His energetic love life--he had two wives, at least fifty-six mistresses, and households full of bastards--also won him the heart of Parisians (until his serial amours began to bore and irritate).

But Henri the obsessive lover was above all a peacemaker. Born and raised a Protestant by a rigidly reformist mother, he converted to Catholicism, the religion of the majority, to end the long religious wars between Catholics and Protestants that by the end of the sixteenth century had left Paris starving and looking like a bomb site. Detesting religious partisanship, he drafted and signed the Edict of Nantes (1598), which put toleration of the religion he had renounced on the books. Sounding like a Dalai Lama, he explained:

Those who honestly follow their conscience are of my religion, and as for me, I belong to the faith of all those who are gallant and good ... . We must be brought to agreement by reason and kindness and not by strictness and cruelty which serve only to arouse men.

The fanatical Catholic who stabbed him to death, François Ravaillac, was not persuaded.

But to this day, in the words of André Maurois, "together with Charlemagne, Joan of Arc, and Saint-Louis IX, Henri IV remains one of France's heroes." He declared kindness and mercy the primary virtues of a prince.8


Nearby:

PLACE DAUPHINE Enter through rue Henri Robert on the east side of Pont Neuf. Henri IV designed this hideaway for his son Louis XIII--the dauphin--who was nine years old when his father was assassinated. Some of the low brick buildings are of Henri's period; the trees are new and small, having only recently been planted to replace the white chestnuts that were attacked by a virulent pest. Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, who loved the village-like Place, lived here.

PONT DES ARTS The footbridge connecting the Left Bank to the Louvre carries a lively traffic of musicians, painters, students, lovers, tourists, and children, with a wide view of the Seine and a rear view of the Square du Vert Galant. Pierre Auguste Renoir's painting Le Pont des Arts (1868) was the first he sold to the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, one of the most important advocates for French impressionists in Europe and the United States.


SQUARE HONORÉ-CHAMPION Through an arch to the right of the Institut de France on the Left Bank's Quai de Conti, a statue of the eighteenth-century philosopher Voltaire stands atop a small green mound bordered with flowers. Without this immensely influential leader of the Enlightenment, the Declaration of Independence (and the American Revolution) would never, according to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, have come to pass.
 

LES BOUQUINISTES The quintessentially Parisian version of bookselling. The large green standing boxes full of books and prints line the quais on both banks of the Seine. The first ones were located on Pont Neuf.

HIDDEN GARDENS OF PARIS. Copyright© 2012 by Susan Cahill. Photographs copyright © 2012 by Marion Ranoux. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, NY NY 10010

 

 

 


 



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Excerpted from Hidden Gardens of Paris by Susan Cahill Copyright © 2012 by Susan Cahill. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

SUSAN CAHILL has published four travel books on Italy and Ireland. She is the editor of the bestselling Women and Fiction series and author of the novel Earth Angels. She spends a few months in Paris every year. MARION RANOUX, a native Parisian, is an experienced freelance photographer and translator into French of Czech literature.

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Hidden Gardens of Paris: A Guide to the Parks, Squares, and Woodlands of the City of Light 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just returned from a wonderful trip to Europe that ended in Paris. This was the perfect book to have on my Nook; I could read about the gardens during the flight over and anticipate their discoveries. Every day in Paris we would find another one or more of these garden oases in the heart of Paris. Each offered a reflective moment - a time to slow and connect with each other and enjoy the life-giving greens of plants and flowers in the middle of Paris.