Back home, a Lynn Geesaman photograph of spring flowers and budding trees in the Bagatelle hangs in my office. It was only when I started planning this trip that I realized that it had been taken in Paris and that I could go there.Of course, a little more research led me to realize that the Parc de Bagatelle isn’t exactly a convenient stop. The travel guide descriptions sounded wonderful, but no one I knew had ever heard of it, let alone been there. Would a visit be worth the time and effort it would require?
I pondered this for some time, but when my friend Jeff told me that he knew Eric of the (wonderful) blog, Paris Daily Photo, I had an idea. I wrote Eric, telling him that I love gardens and wanted to know what one garden might be “particularly inviting” this time of year. His response: What I would recommend without any doubt is Le jardin de Bagatelle.
Visiting the beautiful Bagatelle
So here we are, somewhere within the vast expanse of the Bois de Boulogne, in which the Bagatelle is located. Unfortunately, we aren’t sure exactly where the Bagatelle is or even where we are at the moment. After a confusing ride through the park, our cab driver stopped at an intersection and asked which entrance we wanted. Unfortunately, “the one nearest the kimono show” (something else Eric alerted us to) didn’t seem to mean much to him. He told us we are near the second entrance – it is just a short walk – and dropped us off right there. (I think he had somewhere else he wanted to be.)
We choose a likely direction, circle part way around a large pond filled with wild yellow water lilies, and hike through grassy field back to and across the road.
There seems to be a trail through the woods going in what we guess to be the right direction.
We take it.
It is a hot day and neither of us are particularly appropriately dressed for a long hike. I’m envious of the bikers that whiz past us.
It is a relief to see the park entrance finally come into sight.
Despite the grand entry, they don’t have a map of the park for us.
I guess this means we are still lost.
Paths lead off in all directions. Where should we look for the roses Eric told me about?
Secluded paths and shrieking peacocks
Unsure, we simply choose one. It leads us through woodland and open fields, a few carefully landscaped ponds scattered about. It is pleasant and quiet. . . . well, mostly quiet. The peace is regularly shattered by the shrieking of peacocks.
There are peacocks everywhere, but they seem impossible to approach. Even the children trying to entice them with food are given the evil eye, leaving the proffered treats to the flocks of pigeons that huddle close.
Eventually we find the main entrance to the park. We also notice signs directing us to the kimono show that Eric had mentioned. Since the mid-day sun is hot and harsh (not at all conducive to good garden photography), we start with the kimono show.
Back outside, the sun is still intense and we still don’t have a decent map, but there is a well-developed path system, so we follow it past a colorful boarder garden to a large, lushly landscaped pond.
A bend in the trail leads to an open field with scattered beds of roses, lovely vistas, and a few more shrieking peacocks.
There are options for photography everywhere
Quite some time later the sun vanishes behind a bank of heavy gray clouds. The light flat and even – perfect for photographing plants!
I linger in each garden we come to.
Of course, the peacocks make sure no one becomes so entranced by the plantings that I forget about them.
Being lost isn’t so bad now, but the path does eventually lead us back to the main entrance. I still don’t think I have found the roses Eric told me about – there simply have to be more of them! Time to ask for directions.
The security guards I approach are friendly and helpful, eager to show-off their park. My request for a map yields not only the map, but a rave review of the park’s key attractions of the moment (the iris and rose gardens are at their peak) and directions for reaching them via the formal presentation gardens.
A glorious presentation garden
Following that recommendation, we enter the presentation gardens. There are lots of other people here, but the gardens are gorgeous!
A lovely kitchen garden
A small house sits amid the gardens (The gardener’s cottage? A guest house?) and behind it is a formal household garden with cutting flowers, vegetables, and espaliered fruit trees.
My vegetable garden has never looked this good!
The iris garden in bloom
At last we reach the iris garden.
Wow! I could spend all afternoon right here.
The sky has become increasingly dark – we’d better find the roses before it rains.
Raindrops on Roses at the Bagatelle
We step up into an amazing fairy tale garden, the hard metal trellises and sharply pruned greenery a perfect foil for the rather unruly clumps of bright roses.
We wait under a tree while the rain falls.
It is time for our day here to come to an end.