How many times have you heard people swooning over visiting Paris in the spring? I swoon too. But this year, rather than in spring, I spent a glorious few days in Paris in late autumn and I have changed my tune. There is much to be said about visiting the “City of Light” towards the end of the year. The crowds are gone and tourists do not dominate the attractions. Real Parisians are out and about and as long as I didn’t wear bright white running shoes the locals couldn’t tell I was from somewhere else, that is until I opened my mouth, and even then they seemed to have more patience with my fumbling French.
I’m not very good at standing in line for anything and on previous trips have avoided visiting the Louvre because the crowds were too much for me. This time it was different. There were no line ups!
Once inside this massive art depository I was amazed that the Venus de Milo and I were within touching distance. Of course, I didn’t dare try and touch but I did get a clear photo of her without anyone’s head in the way.
Looking out one of the Louvre windows, I could see the Tuileries Gardens (Jardin des Tuileries) in the distance where a solitary gardener was sweeping fallen leaves. I noticed the gardens still had lots of colour, but it was mainly pink. How could that be? Autumn colours should be gold, yellow and burgundy…shouldn’t they?
After having a look at the Mona Lisa I headed outside to investigate those flashes of pink. They turned out to be asters (variety unknown). The absence of the so-called autumn palette of colours was a little jarring. Could pink be the new colour for fall gardens? I wondered and set off to roam the streets of Paris to find out if I’d somehow missed a garden trend.
At the magnificent Hotel Sully, a restored 17th century former mansion in the Marais district, the colour pink was also featured. A series of images of women’s’ torsos and breasts were hung on the exterior walls and in the garden tree-like wire sculptures were festooned with pink ribbons. The photos, by visual artist Kaliko, won the Estee Lauder Pink Ribbon Photo Award for breast cancer awareness. The exhibition was named the Jardins d’Espoir (Garden of Hope).
The streets of Paris never fail to enchant me. Rue Crémieux, near my hotel, is a narrow street stretching 144 metres from rue de Bercy to rue de Lyon. It is most notable for its colourfully painted houses (of which only one is pink). The entire street is lined with plants growing in containers (no pink here). Who says you need a patch of earth to have a garden?
The weather was cool enough that most florists had samples of their wares out on the sidewalks – like this one, a staging of buckets of roses in many shades of pink.
Next stop was the Luxembourg Gardens in the 6th arrondissement. The gardens, created in 1612 , surround the palace built by Marie de Medici. Covering almost 60 acres, the grounds are laid out with trees and shrubs, flower beds and fountains. I found that pink was very much a feature in these gardens too.
I’m still not sure if pink is the new autumn gold (I’d need more time in Paris to investigate) but Parisian gardeners gardens seem to be playfully messing with tradition!