Paris Vignettes: The City’s Glorious Gardens in Spring

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Paris Vignettes: The City’s Glorious Gardens in Spring

The Paris Vignettes series features the inspired work of street photographer William “Bill” O’Such in themed installments

One of Paris most enchanting aspects is its green space: lush parks, gardens, and hidden retreats where the city’s buzz fades away, replaced by a chorus of birds amidst the flowers and people relaxing on the iconic green benches. For one of my “green days,” I rode Metro line 13 up to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, a haven of rolling hills and picturesque views. The park’s winding paths invite exploration, with every turn offering a new surprise — a cascading waterfall here, a dramatic stone bridge there. If you haven’t visited, it’s a must-see, surrounded by charming neighborhoods, each brimming with character.

petites hebergements. Photo credit: William O’Such

As I wandered, I noticed how the city’s gardeners increasingly encourage biodiversity in Paris. A small wooden structure (“petites hebergements”) welcomed you as you entered the park, providing “lodging” for beneficial insects. These critters play a crucial role in pollinating the park’s vibrant flowers (“épanouissement”), fostering a flourishing ecosystem.

épanouissement. Photo credit: William O’Such

Afterwards, I ventured to the nearby Parc de Belleville, a more intimate but equally captivating spot. Here, amidst well-manicured lawns and hidden corners (“sourire parc belleville”), I stumbled upon a vineyard — an unexpected gem in the heart of Paris. The park’s terraced layout offers stunning panoramic views of the city, with the Eiffel Tower peeking through the skyline.

sourire parc belleville. Photo credit: William O’Such

On my way home, I passed through Square Léopold Achille in Le Marais, a modest yet lively square where families gathered to play and relax. As I sat on a bench, I glanced up to see a magnificent magnolia tree (“magnolia dans le marais”), its massive branches heavy with blossoms. Nearby, a blooming bush (“rose partout”) added another splash of color.

magnolia dans le marais. Photo credit: William O’Such

rose partout. Photo credit: William O’Such

Even the cemeteries in Paris hold their share of greenery (“verdure dans le cimitiere”). At Cimetière du Montparnasse, ivy and ferns intertwined with ancient gravestones, creating an atmosphere both peaceful and contemplative.

But perhaps the most joyful moment came at Parc Monceau. Beyond its manicured lawns and stately statues, I started my adventure with photographing shoes, and while getting close to ground level I spotted a sprightly puppy (“le chien qui se pavane”) who was trying to keep pace with its pack, while another dog waited nearby, exuding confidence and contentment (“je suis pret”)

verdure dans le cimitiere. Photo credit: William O’Such

parc monceau. Photo credit: William O’Such

le chien qui se pavane. Photo credit: William O’Such

jardin du luxembourg. Photo credit: William O’Such

Lead photo credit : je suis pret. Photo credit: William O'Such

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William was introduced to silver halide photography by his father, Chester J. O’Such, via the family’s Ansco reflex camera and home darkroom. After college, William worked as a photographic engineer at Eastman Kodak, where he began to learn the art of photography. With his first SLR, a Canon AE-1, he photographed his inaugural voyage to Paris in 1982. This early spark turned into full passion when William became a Kodak expatriate in Paris from 1995-99. Before returning to the USA, William and his future wife Ineke bought an apartment in the Marais district. Inspired by Bresson, William continues to visit Paris at least twice a year to wander the streets, camera in hand, looking for the next vignette. His photos are available for sale by visiting www.osuchphotography.com