Paris appears to have a rather ambivalent relationship with the city’s public lawns—in parks and gardens, large and small.
On the one hand, Parisians obviously love their lawns and will sit on them at any time, especially in the warmer weather, to relax, have a picnic, play frisbee or ball.
And if there is not a lawn available, they will often create a fake green covering, as on the roof top lookout at the famous department store, Galeries Lafayette.
But, on the other hand, park and/or city officials, often place signs forbidding us to step on the lawn at all, never mind sitting or playing on it.
I can understand if the sign forbids dogs on the grass. And if the lawn is “resting’ for the winter (or the summer) that’s understandable, but sometimes there seems to be no reason for the sign. For me, that’s perplexing.
Author Stephen Clarke sums it up quite well in “Paris Revealed. The Secret Life of a City” (page 124). He says, “….the notorious Pelouse Interdite signs, which usually make me want to laugh and cry. Laugh, because it seems absurd to erect a sign saying ‘lawn forbidden’ on a lawn….And cry because the sign means more than just ‘keep off the lawn’. It is saying ‘no fun or relaxation here’”.
Luckily there are plenty of open lawns, so this is just one more Paris enigma, something that makes the city what it is—fascinating and complex.