Planning the Greenspaces of Nineteenth-Century Paris, written by Richard S. Hopkins, is an LSU Press publication exploring the green spaces in Paris. For the avid gardener and garden designer/planner, this could be a great book to learn more about Paris’ parks. Many people may think parks and gardens were created just to look at. But, the government influences more than people’s eyes.
Emperor Napoleon III wanted to make Paris an international capital. And, what an emperor wants, who can deny? Along with his great recreation of Paris, he wanted to include green spaces in each of the city’s sections. So, while Hausmann was tearing down ancient buildings and creating wide boulevards, gardens were being planned and planted all over the city.
Certainly, urban planners in the second half of the 1800s faced similar issues as those of today. First of all, how do we create green areas and their facilities that will attract visitors? Also, how do we serve the people living nearby and be good looking? Like today, building gardens and public gathering areas was a way to build communities and provide identity to the neighborhood.
This detailed book explores the history behind green spaces in Paris. Green spaces were public works projects. Many people were employed to construct and maintain the parks. This maintenance has continued for hundreds of years. So, it seems the parks succeeded at that goal. And, other goals were accomplished too. We, as visitors, are certainly the beneficiaries of this great nineteenth century project!
Praise for Planning the Greenspaces of Nineteenth-Century Paris
“Planning the Greenspaces is a fascinating read and a welcome addition to the scholarship on Paris and on urban greenspaces that could work well as a supplemental text in an upper-division course on Paris or France.”—American Historical Review
“This concise and elegant book reflects rigorous archival research rendered in readable prose. . . . Geographers will appreciate the author’s attention throughout to scale as an analytic tool, and his sustained analysis of the social production of urban space through a dialectic of design and use.”—Journal of Historical Geography
“Richard S. Hopkins’s book Planning the Greenspaces of Nineteenth-Century Paris serves as an important reminder that the development of acres of parks and gardens were also central to the project of creating a modern European capital. . . . [An] insightful and enjoyable text.”—Canadian Journal of History
Read more for yourself in Richard S. Hopkins’ book. He is an assistant professor of history at Widener University. The only part that I would have liked more is to have had illustrations of some of these green spaces. Sadly, there are none.
Planning the Greenspaces of Nineteenth-Century Paris, by Richard S. Hopkins. Order here.
Like many big cities, Paris is making a huge push to be “Green and Sustainable.” Those words are popular in today’s culture, but what do they mean for visitors to Paris? Following is a brief explanation for those who may be wondering.
What is “Green?”
“Green” has many different meanings to many different people. The general idea is to reduce human waste and consumption. It is also defined as being environmentally responsible (another term that means avoid damaging the planet).And, not to trivialize being green, but maybe it is simply the idea that humans stop working against nature and start working to help nature.
How is that done?Rather than doing things that hurt the planet or environment, do things that help. Work to reduce the human race’s effect on nature. In other words, try not to create a trash heap (read “mountain”) of your used plastic water bottles, plastic straws, aluminum cans, plastic bags, etc….Try to avoid using cleaners made with toxic substances that run off into the lakes, rivers and oceans.Try to eat foods grown with the least amount of antibiotics, herbicides and pesticides.All of these man-made creations go somewhere once they have been used. And, generally it harms someone or something else down the line.So, cut down on all of it in an effort to be green. Most importantly, see how small of a trash heap you can leave behind.
What is “Sustainable?”
“Sustainable” is another word with many different meanings to many different people. Overall, it is a huge concept with even more far-reaching and global goals.Those goals include focusing on renewable energy, treating workers and animals ethically and conserving natural resources such as water, land and fuel. “Green” seems like the manifestation of what individual humans can do to help “sustain” the planet.
Although Paris is the subject of this website, it helps to have some American references for understanding sustainability.The United States Environmental Protection Agency states that, “Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.”
You may also be surprised to know that the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 committed the United States to sustainability. (Yes, that long ago.)The act declares it a national policy “to create and maintain conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”
What Does the World Say?
On the world stage, the United Nation’s 1987 “Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development:Our Common Future” notes that sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the well-being of future generations.(What were you doing in 1987 to promote the “well-being of future generations?”Using cans of ozone-depleting hairspray, driving 9-mile-to-the-gallon gas guzzlers and sucking down Big Gulps with long plastic straws?????I wasn’t using the hairspray, but count me in on gas-guzzlers and 7-Eleven straws.)
Ever broader definitions of sustainability continue to evolve in world politics. In 2000, the Earth Charter’s definition of sustainability changed to include the idea of a global society, “founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.”Yes, that was already 18 years ago.But, the ideals remain extremely relevant and seem to be more universally accepted.
As a Visitor What Does it Mean, Green and Sustainable Paris?
Paris promotes its commitment to sustainability by providing locals and visitors with green opportunities. Without knowing it, you may be accidentally participating in green and sustainable initiatives! But don’t stop at accidentally. You can actively choose green options while in Paris.
What is Paris Doing to be Green and Sustainable?
The following are a few examples of how Paris is doing its part to be green and sustainable.At their core, these efforts seek to raise awareness for respecting the environment. On top of raising awareness, they encourage participation.
Photo “Champs-Élysées sans voitures” by Ulamm licensed under CC 4.0
The first Sunday of each month is vehicle free on the avenue des Champs-Élysées. That’s right – no cars!This green and sustainable initiative began in May of 2016 and is an incredible success. Now locals and visitors can take advantage of a new way to experience the famous avenue – right in the middle of the pavement!
Along with leaving one avenue vehicle free each month, the entire city of Paris is vehicle free for one day each year. Except for emergencies, taxis, disabled access, open top tour buses and some other necessary vehicles, the whole city is pedestrian friendly for much of the day. Can you imagine a car-free day in your town?
Want to visit urban green spaces while visiting?The Paris City Council has joined in the effort to be green with an app!Paris Eco Walks is the city council’s downloadable app that leads followers through urban green spaces to see plants and animals. It is a “go at your own pace” tour that will work for anyone interested in finding green spaces throughout Paris.
(Photo from paris.fr)
Along with the many parks in Paris that are vehicle free and easy to enjoy, you may even see community gardens on public land. These shared gardens,jardins partagés, can be found throughout the city. Paris’ Green Hand Charter, Charte Main Verte, is an initiative allowing these community gardens.Citizens work in the gardens and share in the produce.Not surprisingly, the community gardens are extremely popular.As well as vegetables and herbs, in some of the gardens you may even see beekeepers tending their hives. In addition to community gardens, bees are kept throughout Paris. Even on the roofs of landmarks. The Opera Garner’s hives produce honey that is on sale in its gift shop – great souvenir!
(image from La Ferme de Paris twitter)
Another interesting initiative is the organic Paris Farm.This fully-functioning farm in the bois de Vincennes is an outstanding testament to the pride Parisians take in promoting green and sustainable agriculture.Its entire operation is dedicated to respecting the environment using sustainable food production methods.See French cows, pigs, poultry, sheep, horses and other livestock, plus local crops in their green and sustainable habitat. (Ferme de Paris, 1 Route du Pesage, 75012, open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays.)
Paris does not use pesticides in its city parks, gardens or cemeteries. All of those green spaces with blooming flowers and plants are kept without using pesticides. Additionally, pesticides are prohibited from being used on home terraces and roofs. Pretty amazing!
Paris even has a compost program for clippings and cuttings from gardens! It is part of a comprehensive plan for Paris to reduce all forms of trash being generated by the people in in the city – residents and visitors alike.
How Can I Be Green and Sustainable in Paris?
Try to be green and sustainable at the hotel, around town, at restaurants, at markets and in choices to get around the city. That are a lot of opportunities to be green. Even if you think making your whole trip green may be too much of a commitment, try making one day a “green day” in Paris! You’ll have bragging rights for helping Paris work toward sustainability!
At the Hotel and Around Town
Use soaps that are free of toxic ingredients
Recycle plastic, glass, paper and metal
Use the same towel during your stay rather than have the hotel wash it each day
Reuse one water bottle during your entire stay in Paris
At Restaurants and Markets
Choose locally grown products that are designated organic, free range or natural
When eating out or shopping for food, look for Fair Trade products (PFCE – Plate-forme pour le Commerce Equitable) – that means, among other things, the producers have safe working conditions, pay fair wages and are trying to avoid damaging the environment
Order appropriately – do not waste food
Eat organic foods – look for the “bio” designation on the menu or at markets
Getting Around with Less Environmental Impact
Fortunately, Paris is made for walking – a great way to be green
If you do not walk, try to take electric or hybrid taxis, ride a bike, or take the Metro
Paris is moving toward more efficient buses, so look for eco-friendly signs on buses
By taking even small steps, you can say, “I went to Paris and was GREEN!” Over 15 million people visit Paris each year. And, over 2 million people live in Paris. That many people have a huge impact on the environment in a relatively small space on the earth. Any steps you take to be green and sustainable while in Paris will help! Today, the visitor’s motto should be:Reduce, reuse and recycle.
Do you know if your hotel is committed to sustainability? Find out how to tell.
Between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, you will find the Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries). Since the 1500s, this grand park has been a cultivated respite. First the respite was from court life, or maybe as part of court life? Then for fashionable Parisians. And, eventually, for throngs of tourists and locals alike.
Enter from the Louvre Side
On the Louvre side of the garden, the Louvre and its pyramid will dominate the horizon. However, just think, a palace once stood that would have blocked your view – the Tuileries Palace. Originally built in 1564 under the direction of Catherine de Medici, the palace stood on the site of old tile kilns. In French, these places for making tiles were called, tuileries. Hence the name, Tuileries Palace and Tuileries Garden. The Louvre is gargantuan today, but imagine with another entire wing enclosing a giant courtyard!!!
Tuileries Palace, photo taken around 1860.
Okay, back to the garden. Although the gardens were created in the mid-1500s, royalty demanded a makeover after 100 years. Who could remake them? The most famous garden designer ever, of course! André LeNôtre, Louis XIV’s gardener, was commissioned in 1664 to redesign the gardens. Soon after, in 1667, the Tuileries Garden was the first royal garden to be opened to the public. Just for reference, in 1667 in North America, Charles II was King of England. That means he was the monarch of his subjects in the colonies in what would one day become the United States.
There is so much history, it is hard to focus on the gardens! The Tuileries are filled with trees, shrubs, lawns, basins, fountains and lots of crushed granite! You can walk up and get close to inspect nearly any plant in the garden. Beautiful and substantial ironwork fences line the street sides of the garden. But, there are so many entrances, the fencing is purely decorative at this point.
Enter from the Place de la Concorde Side
Enter from the other side of the garden, and you will find a crêpe stand just between the Place de la Concorde and the entrance.
Find a bookstore to the left, appropriately named, Librairie du jardin des Tuileries, that specializes in garden books. Then, up the ramps for horses (now for pedestrians), you will find the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Jeu de Paume museums on either side.
Entrance from the Place de la Concorde side – not much changed since this photo was taken.
You will also see Antoine Coysevox’ famous equestrian statues carved in 1699. Replicas now stand in for the originals that are protected in the Louvre. Sometimes called the Marly statues, they are imminently famous and named the Marly statutes because they were moved from Louis XIV’s estate, Marly, to the Tuileries for decoration.
Huge and Enjoyable
Do not be fooled by looking at the garden on a map. The gardens cover a tremendous expanse. Walking across the garden will take you a while – from any direction.
It is expansive! Those are people walking around down there.
Take a break while crossing at one of the garden’s café’s. Under the trees, enjoy an expensive baguette sandwich and citron pressé – a lemonade that you make yourself from lemon juice. It is brought to you in a tall glass of ice, along with a bottle of sparkling water that you mix sugar from packets into the lemon juice to make lemonade just to your liking.
Along with hosting the annual Jardins, Jardin exposition, the garden brings out lots of children in the summer sailing wooden boats, joystick-ing motorized boats, all while sun worshipers get their vitamin D.
The Tuileries Garden is in the heart of Paris and will be a reference point for your visit. Take advantage of it at any time of year. Even in the dead of winter, it is marvelous to walk in the Tuileries and absorb the history and beauty of Paris.
Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries)
Nearest Métro: Multiple Métros provide access to the Tuileries Garden. Tuileries and Concorde on the Tuileries side of the Seine; On the opposite bank of the river, but still close, look for the stations of Assemblée National and Musée d’Orsay. Arrondissement: 1st Admission: Free to access the garden. Official website: https://www.louvre.fr/en/departments/tuileries-and-carrousel-gardens
Are you thinking Paris is too far away for the weekend? Then head to New York City to explore exhibits on French gardens and Versailles. That’s right, through the end of July, go see Paris in New York City! Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence and Visitors to Versailles 1682 – 1789. Both mounted in the halls of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and full of treasures from France.
Exhibition #1 – Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence
In Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence, The Met, “explores horticultural developments that reshaped the landscape of France and grounded innovative movements—artistic and green—in an era that gave rise to Naturalism, Impressionism, and Art Nouveau.” All of these artistic movements are well-represented through works presented in this exhibition.
Past urbanites are no different from today’s. People living in developed cities flock to gardens and parks to be outdoors, enjoy the air, stretch out in the wide open space and delight in the beauty of nature. To illustrate this love of gardens, the exhibition features a wide range. Sections include Parks for the Public, Revival of Floral Still Life, Portrait in the Garden and Private Gardens.
Exhibits of Ceramics, Drawings and Paintings to Photography
Choosing works from its extensive holdings, The Met displays drawings, etchings, paintings, glassware, ceramics and even early photographs. Although the objects show gardens and parks in other parts of France, the majority is focused on Paris and surrounding areas. Garden lovers will delight in seeing works depicting Fontainebleau, Parc Monceau, Bagatelle, Jardin du Luxembourg, Tuileries, Versailles, along with many other well-known and even less well-known gardens.
Love still life paintings of flowers and garden scenes? Then this exhibition is for you. Works by heavy hitters like, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, August Renoir, Eugène Atget, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Mary Cassatt and many more hang from the walls.
Do 18th century Sèvres porcelain vases with garden scenes painted on them get you going? What about Art Nouveau glass with elegant flower designs in the glass? Do you enjoy the details of garden plans and garden furnishings? Then this is exhibit is also for you! They are all there in cases and on the walls. Really, anyone who is at all interested in gardens in Paris and in France would enjoy this exhibition.
Even if you cannot make it to New York to enjoy the show in person, the exhibition features an accompanying catalogue.
Exhibition #2 – Visitors to Versailles
In Visitors to Versailles 1682 – 1789, The Met, “highlights the experiences of travelers from 1682, when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles, to 1789, when the royal family was forced to leave the palace and return to Paris.” The objects demonstrating this experience range from souvenirs for the visitors to gifts to the royalty and what the visitors wore and saw.
Sections of the exhibit include, Incognito and Private Visitors, To See the King, Getting Dressed for Court, the Gardens and Going to Versailles. The dedicated rooms in the museum present men’s suits and hunting clothes, women’s court dresses, riding habits, shoes, ball gowns and fans, sculpture, tapestries, rugs, miniature portraits in diamond surrounds, hats, swords, military outfits, furniture, porcelain and objects of art. Also, very interestingly, paintings of visitors.
And, it is convenient that the garden exhibit in another section of the museum is on at a similar time. Gardens at the palace were a major part of court life. You will see multiple illustrations of gardens. Royalty wanted to be outside too. Versailles had unending garden delights for royalty and visitors.
Everything is Over the Top, In a Good Way
Like Versailles itself, nearly everything on display is over the top. Many things are gilded, handmade items have the most intricate detailing, master craftsmen used precious stones and rare and exotic materials – it is all here. Just take a look at a set of ivory buttons decorated with scenes of Versailles and the gardens – talk about limited edition. The description explains that the buttons, “intended for a man’s coat may have appealed to tourists.” Of course, they would! Fascinating. And, beautiful.
Along with many items focused on the multiple kings called by the name, “Louis,” Marie Antoinette figures in the exhibition. Likewise, multiple objects depict the visitors to Versailles. For example, a Tunisian ambassador, several Asian dignitaries, and would be Americans, like, Benjamin Franklin! Paintings of Ben and even some of his clothes are on display. From 1776 until 1785, Benjamin Franklin was the representative to France of the American colonies that revolted against England. He was at the French court all the time.
Adding to master works from The Met’s holdings, more than 50 lenders, including the Château de Versailles, offered works to the show.
Don’t miss the statue of a monkey riding a goat!
Like Exhibition #1, even if you cannot make it to New York to enjoy the show in person, the exhibition features an accompanying catalogue. On the cover is an illustration of the gardens of Versailles and visitors enjoying their time in the landscape.
Praise for the exhibition: ” A fascinating window into how the court would have appeared to foreigners and day trippers alike…. ” -Artnet
Jardins, Jardin is a unique event in the heart of Paris. Locals and visitors get to squeeze as much as possible about gardening into a long weekend. The nonprofit l’Association Jardins, Jardins, in partnership with the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens, puts on this amazing plant show right in the middle of the Tuileries. For the 15th annual event in 2018, both professionals and lovers of urban gardens and outdoor design convene here to learn and share information and new ideas about gardens, plants, landscape design, the environment and more.
Professionals, Garden Lovers and Casually Interested
The official website claims 24,000 visitors to the 30 artistic displays that create huge gardens spaces, balconies and terraces. Professional landscape designers and new talent create these installations for public view. They range in size from about 500 square feet to over 2100 square feet. The garden spaces are astounding!
Plus, there are 100 vendors who display and sell garden art, books, furniture, plants and everything to do with gardens. Think you may need an urban hen house? Maybe take a look at the farm life you can have on a less-than-backyard scale. What about water fountains for your courtyard? See ones like you have never seen before. Pots and garden statuary, lighting and irrigation, all like you have never imagined.
Here are some of the exhibitors: Mama Petula, Les Fermes de Gally, la Ferme de Saint Denis, Horticulture et Jardins, Aquaphyte Design, Stèphane Cachelin et ses Chapotelets, Olive Delanoy, Botanique Ėditions, C’juste, Hortus Focus and many more.
Turning the Tuileries into an Exhibition Hall
It is really an extraordinary feat to make this experience happen in the middle of historic gardens originally created by Marie de Medici in the 1500s. Above all, Jardins, Jardin claims to be a laboratory of ideas with experimental work and ideas to exchange. Innovation is encouraged and rewarded with prizes. The event is respectful of the past in Paris, but looking toward the future – and we all get to benefit.
Along with garden installations and shopping, Jardins, Jardin features workshops, demonstrations, family activities and enjoying the beauty outdoors in Paris Spring time. Even more, eat from a Parisian food truck!
What makes it special: Living creations by famous and regular gardeners that push the boundaries of gardening. Where: Tuileries Nearest Métro: Place de la Concorde, Tuileries, cross over the Seine from Musée d’Orsay (also RER C at Musée d’Orsay) When: May 31 – June 3, 2018 Open: 10am to 7pm Official website: www.jardinsjardin.com
My goal is to inspire you to enjoy the Paris of your dreams. If you are trying to take your first trip to Paris, or if you want to go without an organized tour group, then this blog is for you. If this kind of travel experience is what you are after, follow me and revel in all things Paris.
Sign up for the newsletter!
Thank you for subscribing!
Add a comment and share your insight on visiting Paris. Additional information is always welcome. Leave a comment and join in the Paris fun.
Featured Book About Paris
"Paris is always a good idea."
Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, including Amazon Affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, the site will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This defrays the cost of production of the site and allows me to keep bringing you great content.