Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Gardens of awe - Jardins d'Orient - Institute du Monde Arabe

I was told to avoid greens like the plague. One of the hardest colors to paint with. Brave soul, Vivian Swift has filled her new garden book only with greens.
Gardens of Awe and Folly focuses on 9 gardens worldwide including Long Island.
I never visited Square du Vert-Galant featured in Vivian's book till today. It's hidden on the very tip of the isle de Cité in the middle of the Seine.
You can get there via Metro 9 Pont Neuf. You can also catch the Bateaux Vedettes du Pont Neuf  there and cruise up and down the Seine. A must-do at least once in your life. Check.
I brought along Vivian's book.
In New York they would call this quiet corner garden a 'pocket park'. Paris has at least 600+ parks and I have the app to prove it, PARK LIFE. Every new Paris mayor feels duty-bound to create more parks. Jacques Chirac took old forgotten parks, refurbished them and renamed them, like my favorite, Square Marie Trintignant. Past Mayor Delanoë created 79 acres of new green spaces. We can thank current mayor Anne Hidaldo for removing the wretched 'love locks' on Paris bridges which may be equal to creating 100 new parks for the peace of mind it gives us.
Speaking of peace of mind, this morning I read in the NYTimes, 'How walking in nature changes the brain'. "A walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health...etc., etc." If you can't get out to stroll in nature in L.I., Rio, Edinburgh, London, Key West etc. try Vivian's Garden book. It should have almost the same effect.
Today is the first day of Institute du Monde Arabe's spectacular new exhibit (both indoors and out).
JARDINS D'ORIENT de l'Alambra au Taj Mahal will be the hot ticket this summer in my opinion. If you're a mad gardener head here, not the Louvre. Even if you're not a garden nut, you'll be endlessly delighted.
The two floor indoor exhibit are infused with bird song
Plus bird designs incorporated into rugs, fabrics, Persian and Indian miniatures.
The background sound of trickling water fountains will give the little brain cells a nice rest too.
'Oriental gardens have rigorously straight and geometric lines
Shaped by water - the canals that convey the water and the large basins that serve as reservoirs.
The tradition dates back to Achaemenian Persia (c.600-530 BCE)'.
'Water is the core element in an Oriental garden...water is allowed to flow naturally and quietly; the trickling water enhances the garden's relaxed atmosphere'. I feel relaxed already just reading that.
'Certain plants are emblematic of Oriental gardens: citrus, cypress, vines, roses...a garden must stimulate all the senses'. I'm quoting from excellent wall plaques, happily in English plus French. Hooray. And they are NOT placed at toe-level so you don't have to squat to read them (like at some French fashion exhibits...Grrrr).
Shall we venture outside to the real gardens? The bookstore on the ground level has perfect Oriental gifts if you're so inclined.
Fabulous gardens outside were designed by Michel Péna, somewhat like a flat desert environment.
I recommend getting a light lunch available at the kiosk
Relax, stretch back in lounge chairs provided. "Luxe, calm, volupte" Only a roaming peacock is missing.
Here's a peek at a hidden garden (18th c) behind my house. Private garden tours actually come in to see this. And here's a green no one can object to: pistachio ice cream I ate in the JARDINS D'ORIENTS garden.


  1. What a great post! I would love to see le jardin Square du Vert Galant and love the boat idea..
    wonderful review of Vivian's book:)So cute you brought it along.
    I am happy I have her books.

    I also love the garden in back of your home..what a lovely place to live Carol.
    And the gardens by Marcel Péna? Great pics.

    Looks nice and sunny there.Again..I wonder where you get your "énergie!"

  2. Forgot to say I love your colors!

  3. I must admit I'v never heard that old saw about greens. I must try it. I would have thought oranges or blues. What beautiful sights you took us to. April in Paris....

  4. Carol,
    This is one of my most favorite of your posts....I enjoy them all but this was esp tantalizing because I am such a plant/garden lover. Are you on Instagram, BTW? xx

    1. An inactive member...oh that doesn't sound good :))
      Can't keep up with everything..ahem.

    2. More exhibit pictures here Anne:


  5. Gorgeous exhibit!! Wish I could see it

  6. Carol, I smiled when I read your mention of the NY Times article. I had not seen the article; I think I must have been taking a long walk over in Central Park. True!

    It looks to me as if you understand the possibilities of green paint very well, as does Ms. Swift.

    The pocket parks are lovely little bijoux, aren't they?

    I certainly agree that the garden exhibit is a total wow, indoors and out. Pistachio ice cream in a beautiful garden would bring pure joy.


  7. This summer, when it's 96 degrees F and 80 % humidity and sweat is pouring down my brow as I weed, I will repeat this mantra: "The New York Times says this is improving my mental health. The New York Times says this is improving my mental health. The New York Times says this is improving my mental health......

  8. Love how you've given us a dose of greens here, Carol. Can you imagine the next time the visitors pop in to the garden downstairs and you've set up an easel? You'd have them in your pocket. Sounds a wonderful book!

  9. Love the gardens and parks in Paris. On my first trips we always had a picnic at Square du vert Galant as it was a required thing to do - would get food from Samaritaine and take it over there. Last trip I fell in love with the Jardin de la Vallee Suisse, so charming and hidden away.

    1. We did the same on our first trip to Paris in 1997! I had no idea the garden had a name -- we always referred to it as the "tip" near Pont Neuf. We got a lovely slice of pizza from a bakery/traituer on rue Dauphine, and sat on one of the benches *sigh*.

  10. I am revived this dark morning to read your delightful and beautiful post this week. I could hear the water trickling and smell that exquisite rose. Thank you Carol, my day ahead will be happier for it. Nessa

  11. Quelle merveille et quel envie d'y venir voir toutes ces beautés .... merci pour l'avoir partagé avec nous!

  12. What a splendid exhibit! Gorgeous.

    And isn't Vivian's book a dream? I sighed with every page!

  13. Vivian Swift8:41 AM

    I just saw this -- thank you, Carol! And god yes -- thank you Mme. Hidalgo for removing those hidious love locks from the Pont des Arts. Those stupid locks were trashy and cliche and disfiguring to the beautiful lines of that graceful bridge and all because of the nitwits who herded there because it became the "thing" to do. Ugh. People are stupid.

  14. Quite a collection of gorgeous watercolors and photographs, Carol.
    The greens look beautiful.
    You captured Spring :)

  15. Thank you for taking us to this garden from Vivian's book! I will go there next time I get to come to Paris, while admiring the lock free bridges. I agree, re-reading a chapter about one of the gardens in Gardens of Awe and Folly is the next best thing if you can't go to an actual garden. Thanks fo sharing the new garden exhibition and making me jealous of your pistachio ice cream! :)


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