Paris: Sustainable Hidden Gardens of Solitude

October 5, 2009 by

A hidden place of repose opens up to the Potager des Oiseaux next door

Having savored a Salade Paysanne at the unpretentious northern Marais café, La Perle, I was fortified for my afternoon search of more little-known Paris gardens and whatever else I might happen upon along en route.  I made way up the rue des Quatre Fils (4e), made a left onto the rue Charlot, poked my head into several chic boutiques before turning left on rue Pastourelle, then a quick right onto rue de Beauce where I was supposed to find the entrance to the Potager des Oiseaux (literally “Kitchen Garden of the Birds.”) When I arrived, through the locked gate I spied people at the end of a little passage. Figuring they all get there somehow, I rounded the corner to the rue de Bretagne and entered through the first opening I could find, the Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris’s oldest surviving covered market, established under the rule of Louis XIII in 1615.

Organic produce at the Marché des Enfants Rouges

Although I’d enjoyed my earlier lunch, I might have waited had I’d known I’d pass all these market delicacies on my way to access the garden.  The scents of Moroccan couscous and tajines wafted by me as did those of the Japanese, Caribbean, and Italian fare gracing the plates of diners seated throughout at the open air tables. Passing an abundant produce display on the other side of the market, I came upon a wine bar and a host of other food vendors all displaying hard to resist moveable feasts. When I asked a waiter where I could find the Impasse des Oiseaux, he pointed to his immediate right and said, “Alors, it’s right there, Madame.”  I was standing at the entrance of a tiny alley that led me to the opened gate of a bucolic garden on one side which, through another interior gate, led to an intimate jardin partegé, community garden, the Potager des Oiseaux. I’d found it!

The Potager des Oiseaux, reached through the adjacent little garden, which is reached through the oldest covered market in Paris.

A young Japanese gardener said she was there to relax, but also had a square plot to tend.

The 1×1 meter Japanese garden cultivated by a group of friends.

I was enchanted by an absentee gardener’s ladder to nowhere with its colorful gourds

This appeared like a still life out of the corner of my eye

You can see why I was so moved by the place and didn’t really want to leave…

The gardener’s office? I wanted to set up camp there and stay awhile.

Potager des Oiseaux (3e)
rue des Oiseaux, enter through the Marché des Enfants Rouges on rue Bretagne
Metro: Temple or Filles du Calvaire

Marché des Enfants Rouges (3e)
39, rue de Bretagne between rue de Beauce and rue Charlot
Metro: Temple or Filles du Calvaire

Bar La Perle (4e)
Corner of rue de la Perle and rue Vieille du Temple

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