Quiet Corners of Paris: The Swiss Valley
One of the pleasures of wandering around Paris is finding small squares and gardens in unexpected places. These quiet green spaces add another dimension to this beloved city, which can feel frenetic and over-run with people at times.
Each time we visit, Rod and I try to find another out-of-the-way quiet garden or small park. On our latest visit we found this one, thanks to Elaine Sciolino’s “Hidden Gardens of Paris”.
Sciolino calls this La Vallée Suisse (the Swiss Valley)—not sure why. A sign at the edge of the garden tells us it’s actually called Jardin de la Nouvelle France. Its history dates from 1616, when Marie de Medicis decided to create a country-style path on marshy ground. It was updated in 1859 in the Haussmannian style.
We got out the Metro Line 1 at Franklin D Roosevelt and walked down Avenue Franklin D Roosevelt towards the River Seine. First we passed the very imposing Palais de la Découverte, in the rear section of the Grand Palais. It’s a wonderful interactive science museum now.
After that we found a large outdoor sculpture of Alfred Musset, the romantic poet. He is gazing on a group of his admirers and muses: probably the most famous of them was George Sand. Just to the right of the statue are some narrow, uneven stone steps that lead down to a small hidden garden, or “valley”.
It’s quiet, green and leafy, and a very soothing place. A path runs along a small stream, into which a miniature waterfall gently cascades. Old weeping beech trees shade some large rocks on the edge of the pool. Flowering bushes add to the feeling of quiet beauty. The whole is surrounded by tall evergreens and maples, through which we can just see the outline of the Palais.
There were very few people in this tiny park, so we really did feel a kind of solitude, and it’s almost a shock when you walk back up on the other side and find many people walking around, workmen coming to the back of the Palais and trucks parking.