- Author: Loleta Cruse
As I said in my first blog, I love to visit gardens; and in Oct. my husband Pete and I spent some time in Paris. We took with us a wonderful book called Hidden Gardens of Paris by Susan Cahill, which has pictures, descriptions, and related information about 40 gardens in the City of Light.
The must-see item for us was the La Promenade de Plantée (or, as we monolingual clods call it, the Promenade of Plants). This spectacular garden was built in 1993 on a decommissioned rail line and stretches nearly 3 miles from the Place de la Bastille eastward to the “ring road” that marks the informal boundary of the metropolitan area. When we topped the stairs at the Bastille end of the promenade we were rewarded with a feast for the senses, the mind, and the spirit.
It was truly like stepping into another dimension 10 meters above the ground. The hustle and bustle gave way to peace and serenity. Occasionally we would meet a jogger or mothers with strollers (How they managed to navigate the steep stairs remains a mystery!), or someone just relaxing on a bench.
Instead of honking horns we heard the songs of birds and the buzzing of bees working the late-summer blossoms. From time to time a light breeze carried the scent of the roses that were putting forth their last flush of blooms. Who would have guessed you could find such peace, and even solitude in the middle of one of the world's largest cities?
As we strolled along the pathway we were able to look down onto small street-level parks and almost felt like invisible observers of life below. We also were able to enjoy gardens on the balconies and rooftops of apartment buildings we passed. Not for the first time, I thought how nice it might be to live in Paris.
With our bellies full, we were ready to continue our adventure. We discovered a series of tunnels, each decorated in different way, and when we left the last tunnel, we found ourselves entering a forest. Once again, we seemed to be miles, rather than meters, away from city life.
There were many plants I didn't recognize, and as luck would have it, there was a gardener nearby pruning some shrubs. Using one of the few French phrases I know, I asked him if he spoke English. When I ask this question I usually get one of two answers: “No,” or, “A little.” If the answer is no, that usually means the person speaks a little English. If he or she says “a little,” I can be pretty sure we can communicate. In this instance, however, “No” was a correct answer. I tried sign language, and he spoke very slowly, but I never did find out the name of the delicate and fragrant plant pictured here.
When we reached the end of the “forest,” we found ourselves in another park, whose name I've forgotten, but by now we were close to the end of our trek and we didn't stop to smell the roses or any of the other fragrant lovelies. At this point the landscape became more wild and more like a midwestern plain. Somehow we were above street level again, and we were dying to find out what new wonder would reveal itself. What a delight it was to discover this charming school garden!
But our adventure had an unsatisfying ending. As I noted at the beginning, the parkway was said to extend to the ring road, but a few yards beyond the school garden we ran into a fence. We thought there might be a continuation of the path that we had missed, so we retraced our steps, but if there was a continuation we never found it.
Maybe that means we have to return to Paris and try again. That would be fine with me, and now all we have to do is win the lottery. Someone told me we'd have to buy a ticket in order to win. Is that true?/span>