7 Artfully-Hidden Gardens in the Marais

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7 Artfully-Hidden Gardens in the Marais
Concealed within the courtyards of historic mansions, sequestered behind high walls, down alleyways, these Parisian gardens are invisible to the casual passerby, which makes their discovery that much more delightful.  When in need of a break after a day of shopping, taking in a museum or two, or people-watching in a café, nowhere offers a better respite than a garden.  They are also perfect for strolling, sitting, picnicking, appreciating horticulture, or simply pausing to be present to the aura of the Marais.  I stumbled across each garden on this list by chance within the first couple of years after I moved to Paris, seven-plus years ago. I find it particularly gratifying when I can introduce, not just visiting friends, but lifelong Parisians, to one of these hidden treasures. Square Saint-Gilles Grand Veneur – Pauline Roland garden. Photo Credit: Lionel Allorge/ Wikimedia Commons Square Saint-Gilles-Grand-Veneur-Pauline-Roland  This may be the most secret garden of all and somewhere you’d be unlikely to find on your own. I might not know about it even now had I not been shown a rental apartment within its precincts when I was first looking for somewhere to settle. Though situated within a private residential square behind the imposing town residence of King Louis XV’s master of hounds (le grand veneur), the public is nonetheless welcome during the daytime.  The garden is at its most beguiling in summertime when the rose arbors are in full bloom, which is not to say it’s not charming during the rest of the year.  And Pauline Roland? A friend and contemporary of George Sand, she was an early socialist and militant feminist, who was eventually sent into exile and imprisoned for her political views. Victor Hugo paid homage to her in a rather florid poem upon her untimely death. Her name was added to the garden in 2010.  9 rue du Grand Veneur, 3rd arrondissement Clos des Blancs Manteaux. Photo credit: Ralf treinen/ Wikimedia commons Clos des Blancs Manteaux  The Clos des Blancs Manteaux, named after the order of monks who inhabited the quarter in the 13th century, is a community garden (un jardin partagé) where volunteers from the 4th arrondissement cultivate medicinal herbs, plants for dying, vegetables, flowers and other ornamentals. The patchwork pattern of individual plots is, in fact, reminiscent of a monastery garden.   Even though the space abuts the rear of the building where I live, it still took me a couple of months to realize it was there. One day while walking my dog, I saw an open door with greenery in the distance and then noticed a sign indicating that dogs on the leash were allowed — not the case in the majority of gardens in Paris. Inside I found an open space where locals bring their pets to run around and fraternize. The garden itself is up a few steps and altogether much calmer.  The garden was dedicated to the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, shortly after her death, which some find puzzling. since she had no special connection either to the Marais or to horticulture.  21 rue des Blancs Manteaux, 4th

Lead photo credit : Roses in Paris. Photo credit: Guilhem Vellut/ Flickr

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A native New Yorker, Joy first visited Paris after her junior year in college, returning countless times over the years, before eventually putting down roots in the Marais. A veteran travel writer and editor, her original focus was on family travel, later turning to business travel. Having traveled to many corners of the globe, both independently and on assignment, it turns out that Paris is “the one”. How do you beat morning strolls along the Seine before the crowds arrive; weekend shopping at second-hand markets in undiscovered corners of the city; stepping back into history in museums, churches, or just out on the street; being constantly tempted by the delectable works of art showcased in patisserie windows, and so forth? There is always more to be embraced in Paris.


  • Stephanie Feingold
    2024-03-22 12:28:41
    Stephanie Feingold
    It’s too bad that people will now know about the Joseph Minaret garden. It I’ll become overly populated.


  • Lisa Kelly
    2024-03-22 03:31:19
    Lisa Kelly
    Outstanding article. This will be helpful for our upcoming visit to Paris!


  • Beth Gersh-Nesic
    2024-03-22 02:55:36
    Beth Gersh-Nesic
    What a fabulous article, Joy! The Marais is my favorite place to stay in Paris. Thank you for adding to the pleasure. Beth