Three things are brought together for me in a serendipitous fashion.
- A good book.
- A good book on gardens.
- A good book on gardens in Paris.
Would I like to review this book? Oh, yes, yes I would! ‘In and Out Of Paris Gardens of Secret Delights is an exquisite, coffee table book that you’ll love to read.
The Advantage of Traveling through Words
Not only are there sumptuous photos that take you through some of the most famous and some of the secret gardens in Paris, but you also learn so much more about the history of these gardens. It’s the Who, the What and the Why – those elements that come together to bring to you more than the visual. It brings to you an appreciation of the behind the scenes inspiration that caused these gardens to bloom.
Stepping Back in Time
“A Walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life’ (Thomas Jefferson)
What Jefferson observed was the beginning inspiration of many gardens that have been restored and flourish today. The early influence in these gardens included Catherine de Medici who brought the appeal of Italian Renaissance to the Tuileries Palace gardens.
Influence over Time
Whereas Catherine de Medici brought about the Italian influence to the gardens of the Tuileries Palace, the gardens continued to be a ‘work in progress’ throughout as it was the home of many monarchs to follow. The ‘evolution and adaptation’ of the Tuileries influenced the garden trends in the Ile-de-France, as the Seine Valley around Paris is called’.
Design for these gardens not only considered vantage points, but also from the windows and from the terraces.
The beautiful, well known planting beds were transformed by the addition of low, clipped dwarf boxwood hedges – creating a new style trend. Royal gardens were now designed to create what is now known as the ‘essence of French formal gardens’.
The Growing French Style
Influenced at the Palais du Lourve’s academy to include perspective, mathematics and architecture and the influence of painter Charles le Brun, Andre’ Le Nôtre who ‘learned his craft at his parent’s home within the Tuileries Gardens ‘ took the Italian style of gardening to new heights.
The New Garden Template
Le Nôtre’s ‘version of a well-rendered, symmetrical axial garden had less-obvious perspectives, unique optical illusions, and hidden alcoves and surprise that exceeded any Italian orginal’. This became the template for the gardens at Versailles and elevated the French gardens to ‘the jarden à la française.
Promenades in Paris
Influenced by the techniques used in the Versailles gardens, Nôtre returned to ‘Tuileries to add wider, central promenades that formed the basis for Paris’s Axe Historique that now extends from the Lourvre through the Champs-Élysées, past Napoleon’s Arc De Triomphe and westward to the modern-day arch of La Défense.’
The French Revolution
For a time brought to a halt the extravagance of the French gardens. Post war, some of the once well-kept gardens by the were ‘reverted to pastoral landscapes and flowers.’
The Addition of Exotic Gardens
In the mid-century, it was Hubert Robert who inspired the fascination for exotic gardens and a ‘hybridized French landscape garden tradition’.
Paris was reconfigured in the 1853 into 20 manageable arrondissements, all linked with grand, gas-lit boulevards and new waterways were now also greatly inspired by the Kew gardens in England.
The English Influence of Hot Houses
With prefabricated cast iron and glass factory buildings in England, ‘huge exhibit halls such as the Crystal Palace brought to the Parisian gardens exotic blooms’.
The New Paris
The French’s ‘fascination for lakes, cascades, grottoes, lawns, flowerbeds, and trees that transformed their city from just another ancient capital into a lyrical, magical garden city.’
A New Appreciation
I have never travelled to Paris. I have always wanted to see this beautiful, ancient capital. I have long admired the beauty of the architecture and the beauty of the gardens. Having drawn back the curtain to view some of the historical influences to the history of the gardens of Paris, I have a greater appreciation as to how these exquisite gardens came to be.