The gardens which surround the Musée du quai Branly in Paris are free to enter. They are beautifully designed with lots of nooks and terraces. They even host parts of museum exhibitions such as the current TARZAN! exhibition which has sound effects hidden in the garden - great for kids. You can also view the Eiffel Tower whilst sat eating a lovely chocolate cake in the museum cafe also in the gardens.
musée du quai Branly
37, quai Branly
75007 – Paris
tuesday, wednesday and sunday : 11am . 7pm
thursday, friday, saturday : 11am . 9pm
- metro : Iéna (line 9), Alma-Marceau (line 9), Pont de l’Alma (RER C), Bir Hakeim (line 6).
- bus : line 42 Eiffel Tower stop; lines 63, 80, 92: Bosquet-Rapp stop; line 72 Musée d’art moderne – Palais de Tokyo stop
- river shuttle : Eiffel Tower stop (Batobus, Bateaux parisiens et Vedettes de Paris
Directions to one of Paris’s best-kept secrets: Take the Metro's Line 5 and get off at Laumière. Climb up Rue Laumière until you reach the main entrance of the most beautiful Parisian garden: Les Buttes de Chaumont.
Climb up the hill around the lake, up to the view point. Now the real secret: if you happen to be there on August 30th at about 8.20pm, you'll see the sun setting right behind the Sacre Coeur and the Montmartre hill, now that's a view that will stay with you for a while.
Paris' constant drone of traffic noise can be wearying for the footsore tourist, but if you are near to the Opera Bastille you can make an instant escape by walking up a few steps on to the Promenade Plantee.
This little heaven away from the roar of the big city is actually a reclaimed elevated railway line, 4.5km long and planted with thousands of gorgeous flowers and shrubs. Instant relaxation guaranteed, instant slowing down of pulse, and another - somewhat secret - addition to this wonderful city's delights.
If you are tired of traipsing around the Louvre and Quai d'Orsay head for the Rodin museum and garden.
Have a good look around the main house museum then head out to the lovely gardens. At the very bottom you will find some shaded sun loungers where you can catch your breath and even be sketched by the life drawing class that goes there most afternoons.
Deep deep into the Bois De Boulogne, so deep in fact that when you ask a taxi driver to take you there, he does not know what you are talking about, is a secret garden.
A garden exclusively inhabited by flowers and plants depicted from the heights of British literature. For here is the Jardin de Shakespeare. A fenced-off and beautiful garden, in which you will find only plants mentioned in Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. Shouldn't this garden be in somewhere in Regent's Park? Well no, because it's in Paris and more.
During the summer month on the natural stage at the end of the garden, companies come to perform repertories from The Complete Works in French and in English with French subtitles. Maybe we should do the same for Alexandre Dumas in Regent's Park?!
The Priory is a former hospital dating from the end of the 17th century. It was later used as a religious retreat. In 1913 the painter, Maurice Denis, who was deeply religious, as well as being a leading theorist of Post Impressionism, acquired the building and its grounds.
The Priory now houses a small but good collection of French art from the period 1880 to 1940, including Symbolism and Post Impressionism, especially the work of the Pont Aven artists and the Nabis.
The gardens are very beautiful and show sculpture by Bourdelle and Maillol. It's a quiet and contemplative sort of place except when the primary schools are in for an afternoon of art.
2 Rue Maurice Denis, 78100 St Germaine-en-Laye, west of Paris. Metro/RER from Chatelet to St Germaine-en-Laye. Then 10 minute walk through the town. There is said to be a bus but I never saw it.
Albert Kahn was a 19th and 20th century businessman who decided to use his wealth to create an 'Archive of the Planet' at the turn of these centuries in a world being irrevocably changed by the industrial revolution.
He did this by hiring a number of photographers, equipping them with the Lumiere brothers' autochrome colour photography cameras and despatching them to all corners of the globe. The result became a unique archive of 72,000 images and 600,000 feet of film taken between 1900 and 1930.
A selection of the autochromes, as well as clips of film footage, are now on display in the museum, the selections change on an annual basis.
The entry fee also includes access to Kahn's gardens which also reflect his internationalist philosophy. The gardens are a mixture of Japanese, French and English and also include three ‘mini-forests’ with terrain that you might find in any one of the African, Asian or American continents. There is also a ‘Palmarium’ that houses a café as well as some more exotic plant life.
The museum is modern, having opened only in 1986, and also includes computer booths where you’ll find an interactive map of the whole complex, inside and out.
Viewers of the BBC’s ‘Edwardians in Colour’ series will have had a preview of what the museum has to offer, and it’s well worth the 30 minute Metro ride to see it for yourself.
14 Rue du Port in the Boulogne-Billancourt district.
Metro: Pont de Saint Cloud (the museum is literally around the corner and is signposted).
Phone: 01 55 19 28 00
The Promenade Plantée in Paris. Once a raised railway line. Instead of pulling it down, they planted it. And now it is a pleasant second storey floral walk, with benches and drinking fountains; functional, delightful.
The ground-level gardens of Paris are flourishing too. The Parc de Bercy will look good when it is mature. For now, there is an information centre, which tells you about the thousands of people caring for Paris's public greenery.
Where life in Paris spills out on to the pavements: in the rue Montorgueil, the food stalls stretch out to tempt the breakfasters in tha cafés on the other side of the street. The street itself is paved in a swirling mosaic.
The new line 14 of the Métro, the "Méteor". Driverless, it takes you to the Bibliothèque Nationale, four massive glass towers with vast wooden walkways between them.
The Jardin des Poètes, in the west of the city, not far from the Roland Garros tennis stadium, has plaques at the edge of the paths inscribed with extracts from famous French poems.
There are points against Paris, of course: graffiti and roller-bladers, for example. No doubt people scribbled on walls in Montaigne's time and maybe there was his equivalent of roller-bladers, but reading beneath his statue by the Thermes de Cluny "Paris a mon cœur..." (Paris has my heart), I think I know what he meant.
Use a map of Paris!
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