Sunday, August 21, 2016

Marie-Antoinette's Parc - (And Bikes)

At the big birthday party Friday night (our incentive to come to Paris) we were told that Parc Bagatelle was walking distance from the hotel.  So Saturday we ventured out there and it was dreamy.

From a Paris tourism site:

"The Parc de Bagatelle, situated at the heart of the Bois de Boulogne, is one of the City of Paris’s four botanical gardens. Created in 1775, the park and its chateau were built in 64 days after a wager between Queen Marie-Antoinette and her brother in-law, the Count of Artois. The Parc de Bagatelle is a great place for walking and relaxing. As well as giant trees and varied plant life, little bridges, rocks, caves, expanses of water and artificial waterfalls add to the charm and romantic aspect of the park. The 19th century Chinese pagoda is just one of the park’s curiosities. Visitors can admire the magnificent rose garden with 10,000 rose bushes from 1,200 different species. The park regularly hosts exhibitions and events as well as classical music concerts in the summer."
With all the walking around we've been doing, my heel has begun to act up again, but with ice and Naproxen it's been ok.  But it gave me more incentive to figure out how to access the many public bikes in Paris.  So I was able to get a bike within a quarter mile of the hotel and bike most of the way to the park.  Here I am replacing it at another bike station.  J walked over to meet me there.

This system (Velib) is very cool and I'll do another post on it later, but let's get back to the park.

It was a comfortable sunny/cloudy day in the 70s (F).  The park is a mix of formal and (well managed*) wooded areas. You can get a sense from this picture below.

There's this formal part, but the woods in back have paths where you can walk through the trees.

And even the formal gardens have a comfortable, lazy summer feel to them.  They are clearly formal and there's a lot of work, but it isn't obsessive like many such gardens.  The lawn isn't a perfectly fertilized and pesticided deep rich green.  In fact there were lots of bees and butterflies enjoying the flowers.

And the woods had lots of constructed features like this grotto where we could walk through the rock outcropping and sit by  the waterfall.

And sitting there, we looked out over the water to a bridge.

We saw the southern half of the park, but not even all of that we realized at the end when we checked the map.  We totally missed the Japanese garden.  But as we sat down for an espresso for J in the dining area, black clouds were rolling in and a wind picked up.  They were shutting down the umbrellas and told us they were closing because it might rain.  And, in fact, the wind was knocking down the umbrellas over the tables.  It didn't actually rain on the way home, but it was a good time to retreat.  But here are a few more pictures of the park.

The magpie looked a little different from our Alaskan variety, but I'm not sure.  The most surprising birds we saw were the parrots in the tree.  I'm assuming that like in San Francisco, these are escaped parrots.

I always love passion flowers.  Growing up in LA I saw passion flowers all the time.  They were like weeds, but the flowers were so spectacular .  The LA ones had more elaborate coloring.  And we didn't know the fruit was edible.

We took the train to Brussels yesterday and spent the afternoon and evening with the ninety plus cousin of my father.  She's doing quite well, still living on her own, but it's getting shaky and we did talk about my mom and the option of home help rather than having to go to a home as some of the friends who are helping her out are suggesting.  I've found online lists of resources here this morning and I'll show her when we go over today.  I didn't even know she existed when I was a student in Germany.  My father sent me her brother's name when I told him we were going to Amsterdam back then.  That's a story for another day.

*well managed - this is a descriptive statement, not a judgmental one.  In these woods trees are trimmed, dead ones cleared away and replaced, etc.  A very different sort of woods from Alaska woods.


  1. Wonderful to have you both in the neighbourhood. Not to be outclassed by visiting Parisians, Gene and I off tonight to a production of A Comedy of Errors in the very hall it was first produced in 1594 -- Gray's Inn Hall.

    While it is wonderful to live in Alaska, it's not too bad in Paris or London.

    1. "Farewell till then: I will go lose myself
      And wander up and down to view the city."

      I hope they've got newer seats for you tonight. (I just realized when I wrote 'tonight' that we're actually only an hour apart.)


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