Friday, 28 March 2014

Le Parc de Bagatelle: Peacocks and Daffodils

The Parc de Bagatelle is a wonderful garden nestled within and to the west of the Bois de Boulogne. It first opened in 1777 and the style, typical of this era, was described as Anglo-Chinese, a reaction to the very formal French gardens of the time. In 1905 the park was bought by the City of Paris and became a public place for Parisians to enjoy.

Last week my parents were in Paris and we decided to go and visit the gardens. The Parc de Bagatelle and the Chateau that lies within the grounds, were born out of a frivolous and impulsive bet between Marie-Antoinette and the Comte d'Arto. Marie-Antoinette challenged the Count to build a park and Chateau in sixty-four days! He took up the challenge and selected an architect, François-Joseph Bélanger, to design the park. It took the architect two days to come up with a design and drawings and under the direction Thomas Blaikie 900 labourers set to work night and day to meet the crazy deadline. It seems that they managed! The name Bagatelle was chosen as a result of the way in which the gardens came about. The word 'bagatelle' has many synonyms, among them bricole, rigolade, frivolité, bétise, which in English translate to tinker, fun, frivolity and stupidity. The Parc de Bagatelle was in effect an impulsive frivolity.

In the summer the park is renowned for its roses.  March is a little early for roses but instead we were treated to daffodils. LOTS of daffodils. Hay-fever sufferers keep away! 

There are follies located throughout the park which will be subject of another post. Here is one.

There were tulips too. At least I think they're tulips.

And blossom.

Another interesting addition to the park are the peacocks. Apparently there are at least 50 peacocks that meander around the gardens making a terrible racket but looking absolutely stunning as they do so.

Apart from the background hum of Paris traffic you can really feel you're far from the city, that is until you get to the edges of the park where you're presented with a 'small' reminder.

More information about the park and how to get there can be found here in English and French

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