September 99

Water lilies

This is Paris, too!

Pietrina and Dick in Paris


12 September, 1999

Fete des Jardins--Is Paris Greening?

Well this is not a complete update from our last communication, just what we did today which was to tromp through about 6 of the 400 gardens in Paris to help our fellow Parisians celebrate La Fete des Jardins (the festival of the gardens). Primarily this meant taking the subway to a few old and new spots so Dick could try out his new digital camera which had been giving him a hard time but seemed to behave itself today.

Almost all of the pictures on this site were taken with the camera and if you've got the time, double click on any of the pictures to see it enlarged. The resolution should be pretty good and we are checking out the various services that print digital pictures on kodak quality paper to see if this mode of photography can become our primary source of records. (OK, the real reason for this page is to show off Dick's new toy, but you've already figured that out).

Square Lavois

58 K==>The four rivers fountain A closeup of the rivers <==70K

The Four Rivers Fountain

Our first stop was to our backyard at the Square Louvois, a tiny (2292 square yards) but delightful park a few steps from our apartment and across from our favorite hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant. (We like this eating place because it reminds us of the restaurants in Rome. Being cheap, close, and Sicilian helps too.) Here we find out that the main event at the gardens is for the resident gardener to pass out a list of all the vegetation in the park and answer your questions. While we didn't take any pictures of the vegetation, we did take one of the fountain (which one of the guide books claim is the best looking fountain in Paris. We're not sure about that, but it is pretty and its flowing water makes the square a restful place to read a book during a Paris summer day). The fountain, built in 1839 by the architect Visconti and the sculptor Klagmann, consists of four women who represent the four major rivers of France. Someday we'll write up the history of the Square properly as it is not found often in guide books and on the web.

Our old friend, the Palais Royale

Palais Royale Flowers

(Sorry no enlargements of these)

Next we walked a couple blocks to our favorite large garden, the Palais Royale. Surprisingly, it didn't seem to be having anything to do with the feast of the gardens. Since we had just walked through the Tuileries (the big garden in front of the Louvre) the previous night, we ignored that as well and took the subway to a revisit of the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Someday we'll tell you more about the Cemetery where Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Jim Morrison, and a lot of dead French people reside.

Jardin Naturel -- The wild place in Paris

A water lily A tiny swamp deep in the Heart of Paris What the grasses look like

(about 100K each picture)

Water lilies in the swamp -- plus the natural grassy

terrian in Jardin Naturel

But the main reason we were tromping through the cemetery was to find the Jardin Naturel which had yet to make the maps (having been started around 1995). This garden's claim to fame is that it is filled with plants native to Paris. Pietrina will call these wildflowers, Dick will call them weeds. As former vistors to Lady Bird's Texas wildflower memorial in Austin, we were not impressed but took a few pictures of water lilies in their postage size swamp.

Square Sarah Bernhardt

A scarecrow in Paris <==117K

A scarecrow in this field farmed

the old fashioned way

Next we passed through the Square Sarah Bernhardt, a French actress who toured so much in the US that you may have thought she was American. The park was filled with little kids and included a natural garden harvested the old fashioned way with hand threshers, etc. We did manage to get a photo of the scarecrow and a pillar before finding a Greek restaurant for lunch. We found this to be a most un-tony area of Paris but filled with recent immigrants who bring a certain tone to the neighborhood lacking in some of the more affluent parts of town.

Next we took the subway to one of our favorite Parks and then took a very long walk around a pretty lake filled with rowboats and canoes, finally ending up at our destination: a desolate corner called the Jardin d'Agronomie tropicale which we found to be a huge disappointment. This was a pretty neglected reminder of the French colonial past with memorials to the Vietnam who died in French wars, etc. but not much tropical gardens at all unless you count a little bamboo along the side.

Arenes de Lutece

After that, we once more took the subway and alighted on the left bank in one of the oldest parts of Paris, in fact, it was the Arenes de Lutece. (Lutece was the Roman name for Paris). The Arenes are a miniature of the Roman Coliseum and seemed to have been built in the first century and then buried by the Barbarians in 280 and forgotten until the Parisians built a nearby road near the outdoor market that Pietrina visits weekly to get our produce. Now kids play soccer in it all weekend long and older men play a game called Petanque which is essentially a game with very big steel marbles (somewhat like Bocci balls).

Jardin des Plantes

Finally we made it to the highlight of the day, a revisit to the Jardin des Plantes, a huge and well kept garden that also contains a natural history museum and a zoo. At this point we mostly walked up and down the flower gardens and took pictures which will fill up the remainder of this page. The strange contraption in some of the pictures is a piece of art to commemorate the year 2000. (The Parisians love this sort of thing). In fact, it is a giant hourglass and is really pretty neat. We suppose that when all of the sand falls through to the bottom --see the big pile shaped like a candy kiss below -- that it will be December 31, 1999, but I doubt that it will be that precise.)

Most of these are about 100K

I'd be interested to know

your download times

The world's biggest candy kiss -- or a pile of hourglass sand



The Georges Culver statue

A statue of Georges<==64K

A second story statue honoring Georges

On the way back to the subway, we took pictures of the statue on a building which turned out to honor the memory of Georges Culver, a biologist who was influential in setting up the botanical gardens as well as being the father of vertebrate paleontology (if you don't know what that means, you need to bone up on your biology).

La Mosquée

Our best known Mosque<==25K

The Mosque -- Details to come later

Nearby door was a Moslem Mosque which we hope to visit and write about soon. (What a city!)

Pray tell me, sir, whose...

This day was a nice compliment to the previous Sunday which we had spent at the Kew Gardens in London. We'll write more about that when we get around to describing our latest London trip. Did anyone get the obscure reference in the headline?


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