a landscape lover's blog

garden tales from a Brit abroad

Paris from above

The tour Montparnasse is the only skyscraper in Paris. Whatever its architectural merit, its viewing terrace gives wonderful views over the capital. From above, you get a different sense of the scale of the cityscape – the green expanse of the parks and cemeteries, the proximity and juxtaposition of landmarks, the great scars of the railway lines.

In the foreground are views of the jardin Atlantique, a late twentieth century park, placed dramatically on top of the Montparnasse railway station.

jardin AtlantiqueAlso adjacent is the 19th century Montparnasse cemetery, which seems surprisingly large viewed from above.

Montparnasse cemeterySlightly more distant, in the 6th arrondissement, is the lush, 17th century jardin du Luxembourg, with the iconic cemetery Père Lachaise (the city’s biggest green space), located in the 20th arrondissement, visible beyond.

jardin du LuxembourgTo the west is the 101 metre high, golden dome of Les Invalides with its grand esplanade leading to the Seine.

InvalidesAnd, of course, arguably the original ‘skyscraper’ in Paris, here’s la tour Eiffel straddling the half-mile long processional space of the Champs de Mars with, as backdrop, the business district at la Défense.

Tour EiffelOften, it’s the little details of the city that catch my eye – a cluster of plants, a sign, the face on a sculpture – so it’s good to be reminded of the large scale and drama of this splendid place.

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9 comments on “Paris from above

  1. Julia@PolkaDotGaloshes
    June 3, 2011

    You really do combine my two loves, gardening and PARIS!! Love this post, makes me feel like I am back there =)

  2. maggie
    June 3, 2011

    Very satisfying photos, with long views and plenty of context details. In particular, your photo puncutated with the jardin du Luxembourg and Pere Lachaise gives them the look of lush oases—although the surroundings one might escape to them from are packed rather than desertic.

    Since you wrote that you will be leaving Paris, this post struck me as an admiring coda for your city.

    • landscapelover
      June 3, 2011

      Maggie, thanks for the comment. The city of Paris claims to have half a million trees, and more woodland than any other European capital, but I suspect the bulk of that is in the Bois de Boulogne and Vincennes (the great forests to the west and east of the city and arguably not ‘proper’ Paris at all). Certainly as you say, the city parks look like green havens amid a mass of buildings.

  3. Jill, Fabulous. I have been to Paris several times, but never to look at gardens (mostly art and history). You really made me want to come back. Carolyn

    • landscapelover
      June 4, 2011

      I am sure we will want to come back too, as our departure for ‘pastures new’ rushes ever closer. I can’t believe that you have been to Paris and not visited the gardens!

  4. Jud y B.
    June 11, 2011

    Just came upon your blog – and, as far as I know, you haven’t mentioned the Jardin de Plantes in Paris. We went there about 3 years ago and I was astounded. Rows of plants in individual color ranges – gorgeous. I am not a gardener (in fact, I write a humor column for Chicago suburban papers where I emphasize this – see below)), but nobody seems to write about this place – I’m beginning to think I dreamed it. We will be in Paris on Sept. 28-Oct. 11 and, by gosh, I am going there. Anyway – here is a comment I wrote not long ago about my total lack of gardening skills, hope it gives all you talented gardeners a chuckle. Judy B

    “I love garden walks, but I’ve about given up on gardening. Many a summer afternoon, Judy can be found standing in a decaying flower bed, shaking her garden-gloved fist at the sky and shouting, “Why me, why me?” At which point dirt from inside the glove cascades down her upraised arm into her mouth, which is the only answer she ever gets.”

    (From “Judy’s Top Five,” Pioneer Press, Oak Leaves),

    • landscapelover
      June 11, 2011

      Judy, hi

      Thanks for calling by. Jardin des Plantes certainly isn’t just a figment of your imagination – it is an interesting botanical garden, with a great natural history museum alongside, a little menagerie, and some newly-restored 19th century glasshouses. I’ve mentioned the glasshouses in passing here: http://landscapelover.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/tell-tale-signs/
      But to be honest it’s the other side of Paris from me and, if I head that way, the jardin du Luxembourg is more likely to be my port of call.
      Enjoy your visit in the Autumn!

  5. jandev
    June 13, 2011

    Is the top of the Tour de Montparnasse open to the public? It never occurred to me to go up there (the building is such an eyesore that I always to wish it away).

    • landscapelover
      June 14, 2011

      Jan, yes there is a viewing terrace at the top of the tower (entry is 10 euros), and, as Jacques Chirac supposedly said, “C’est de la tour Montparnasse, qu’on a la plus belle vue de Paris, car on ne voit pas la tour Montparnasse”. [The most beautiful view of Paris is from the Montparnasse tower, because from there you can't see the Montparnasse tower.]

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