Paris Hidden Garden With History
May 26, 2013 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Hidden within the walls surrounding Paris’s National Archives, there lies a quiet haven of tranquil gardens perfect for a quiet city escape. Located in the heart of the Marais, one of the city’s most stylish neighborhoods, the garden is tucked inside the Hôtel de Soubise, behind the tall walls of the National Archives, where it opened to the public in 2011.
The gardens were designed by French landscape architect, Louis Benech, known for having designed more than 250 important projects around the globe, including the Tuileries Gardens, the gardens of the Elysée Palace, and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs gardens.
The 8,000 square meter (86,111 square feet) garden consists of four individual gardens, formerly owned by different hôtels particuliers (grand mansions): the Hôtels de Rohan (not to be confused with the Hôtel de Rohan-Guémené, Victor Hugo’s former house on the Place des Vosges), Hôtel d’Assy, Hôtel de Breteuil, Hôtel de Fontenay and Hôtel de Jaucourt.
Centuries of France’s rich history are catalogued inside The National Archives, home to the original Declaration on the Rights of Man and of the Citizen dating from 1789, letters from Louis XVI, and a papyrus issued by King Chlotar II dated AD 625.
Although scheduled to move sometime this year to a new contemporary structure in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, in the northern suburbs of Paris, the Marais facility will remain the center for pre-French Revolution archives as well as for Paris notarial records, so these gardens will continue to be a spot for quiet contemplation in the center of a bustling metropolis.
You can enter the National Archives garden from any of the four bordering streets: at 60 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, cross the impressive courtyard of the Hôtel de Soubise, take the entrance on your right. Pass through the small alley, the ruelle de la Roche–one of the oldest streets of Paris–a passageway between the rue des Archives and rue Vieille-du-Temple. Alternatively, you can enter from the east at rue Vieille-du-Temple, from the north at rue des Quatre-Fils, or from the west at rue des Archives.
Editor’s Note: The gardens were brought to my attention by Paris-based French property consultant Adrian Leeds, author and editor of the “Parler Paris”, editor of “French Property Insider” and of “Adrian Leeds’ Top 100 Cheap Insider Paris Restaurants.”