After three years in the same city, it’s easy to believe that you’ve been around the block enough. And by block I mean every one of them. I know the metro by heart – easily visualizing where sky blue intersects with forest green or lemon yellow – I no longer have to look up my trajet before hopping on a velib, and numbers 1 through 20 conjure up familiar neighborhood portraits before my brain thinks of it as a quantity.
But Paris is a fairly big city, and despite the years I’m racking up, there are still plenty of places to discover, both known and unknown. More recently I was discovering the untapped beauty of Croatia’s Dalmatian Islands (I miss you already, Summer Vacation!), but before that, it was close to Bois de Boulogne that I made a new Parisian discovery – Le Jardin Albert Kahn.
I had heard about this garden in the past, but only knew that it was nestled far off in the 16th (the graveyard of Paris, as taxi drivers call it), and that it was supposedly one of the city’s little known treasures. So, a few days before I left for my trip – while the streets will still quite empty – I hopped on the lemon-yellow line to these mysterious gardens. Greeted by a short line with predominately elderly people, I knew I was about to strike gold (the elderly know all the best places, after all).
Established by none other than Albert Kahn himself in the early 1920s, the garden is surprisingly large and deceivingly diverse. What appears to be a simple Japanese garden expands into four whole acres of prime-time 20th century greenery:
“Once past the exhibition gallery doors, visitors are in the Japanese parts: the old village, filled with temples, lanterns, stone paths edged, and the contemporary garden, a tribute to Albert Kahn’s life, with azaleas, and streams crossed by stone or timber bridges. Bamboo gates mark the entrance to formal French gardens, on the left, with a greenhouse, orchard, and rose garden, and to English garden, on the right (with green grass, false rock and cottage). Then, a forest of Blue Atlas cedars and Colorado spruces, whose low branches screen a small lily pond surrounded by a wild meadow. After crossing the meadow and passing through a group of slender birches, paths lead to a vast forest of conifers planted on steep, rocky soil, a reproduction of the Vosges Mountains near Kahn’s birthplace.”
If you’re looking for an escape from the concrete and sirens, a trip to this jardin is a definite must. Sit by the pond watching the koi fish swim by, take a walk in the rose garden with your amant, chase a butterfly through the meadow, or sit in contemplation in the forest for an ultimate zen moment.