Coulée verte Réne-Dumont, Paris, February 2016
Last weekend when, paradoxically it was t-shirt weather here in Tostat, we took the overnight train on Friday night and slept our way to Paris for the weekend- where the weather was pretty grey and grisly. But spring could be seen on it’s way, and it was great to stroll. The Coulée verte René-Dumont was wonderful, though wintry. The first flowering almonds and Japanese quinces could be seen, and through the thick mulch, life was stirring.
The 4.5 km of the Coulée verte has been made on a circular local railway track that used to encompass Paris- the walkway near Bastille is raised, other sections are at ground level. The raised section is dramatic, walking 15 or so metres up from pavement level, you are eyeball to eyeball with some great buildings. I don’t know what this building was or is, but the escaping statue bodies are spectacular. This great urban garden pathway was constructed in 1993 and pre-dates and inspired the New York City makers of the High Line. It may not have Oudolf designed planting, but the stretch I walked had a good choice of winter and spring planting, homely rather than designer, and good all the same.
Coming down from the Coulée verte, we walked swiftly in the direction of the Paris botanical garden, Jardin des Plantes, and more importantly, the hothouses. I am not usually an orchid fan. They come under the heading ‘Difficult and needing year round warmth’ in my book, but I was required to eat my hat as there was a stunning orchid show ‘Mille et une orchidées’ on display. Here were two of my favourites, the colours were stunning, deep brooding purple and blue with zazzy pink and red. The photograph tends to flatten the colour slightly- must read up how to change that!
Just as the light was going, leaving Montmartre for Abbesse, we peered through the chainmail gate to glimpse the ancient vineyard or Clos de Montmartre. The last working vineyard of Paris, there were once four vineyards in Montmartre alone, it produces wine called ‘Goutte d’Or’ which is supplied to local old people’s homes and charities. Montmartre once had several windmills, it is high on a hill overlooking the city, and at the back of the photograph, I would lay money that the tower shaped building is an old windmill without sails.
And a planted garden in a square we passed through on the way to Bastille was really pleasing. For a start, great children’s play equipment meant lots of use by families, grandparents, local residents, and then there were planters, each of which had been taken on by different residents to grow whatever they fancied. A really good idea. Okay, there wasn’t much to be seen in February, but I bet that in June, they are bursting with flowers, fruit and vegetables. To top it off, a simple, but really pretty Spring planting of crocuses naturalising in the grass, with clipped and shaped viburnum giving that little touch of structure. Makes you smile.