Someone asked me the other day about “secret” places in Paris, where it would be fun to take visitors. One of my suggestions was the garden of the Hôtel Biron in the 7th arrondissement. OK, so the building is not exactly a secret, as it currently serves as the musée Rodin, which receives about half a million visitors a year. But the three-hectare gardens are less well known, and very pretty in the summer. The entry charge for the gardens is only one euro.
The house itself is early eighteenth century. The current gardens were laid out in the 1990s, when it was decided not to recreate the original design (although plans survive) or to restore the gardens as they would have been during Rodin’s time. Instead a pleasingly plant-rich contemporary design by Jacques Sgard was installed among the ornamental ponds and mature linden trees. You can stroll among roses, irises and paeonies, admire the occasional Rodin sculpture, and enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower and the golden dome of Les Invalides, both nearby. There is also a little children’s playground and a pleasant café in the grounds.