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garden tales from a Brit abroad

Grands Moulins revisited

Three years ago I wrote rather disparagingly about the jardins des Grands Moulins – Abbé Pierre, in Paris’s 13th arrondissement. It is a new, self-proclaimed sustainable park, and I wondered quite what visitors were meant to do there, other than admire how desperately sustainable it all was.

Grands Moulins01

A second visit this summer has made me somewhat change my views. The park is still undeniably scruffy, with unremarkable native plants sprawling and straggling over the paths. Clumps of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica subsp. dioica) lurked right by at least one set of steps.

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But there is now a clearer contrast between the mown grass and the meadow areas, which make it clear that the park is meant to look like this, rather than (as a commenter on my initial review remarked) as if the city had stopped maintaining it four years ago. The plants generally had grown in and looked more settled, and thickets of guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) offered bright red clusters of fruit to enliven the otherwise overwhelmingly green palette.

Grands Moulins02

Plus water was now duly flowing and gurgling as intended in the many rills and channels around the site (my first visit was during a drought).

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And, most importantly, people were now present, doing … well, what people normally do in neighbourhood parks: sitting on benches chatting, pushing babies in buggies, people-watching (from the rather snazzy curved bridge over the site), even a group of kids playing a version of Pooh Sticks with leaves in the water channels.

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Maybe it was just that my expectations were lowered by that first visit, but overall I rather warmed to the jardins des Grands Moulins.

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3 comments on “Grands Moulins revisited

  1. Diana Studer
    July 19, 2014

    It makes all the difference to see a park being used, enjoyed and appreciated by people. Surrounded by all those blocks of flats, there must be people desparate for some space, some peace and quiet.

  2. Stuart Read
    July 21, 2014

    always good to have a second, and third visit/impression. Perhaps it works fine: like the parks in Valencia, designed (in part) by public consultation: radical,but hey: the locals want dog-walking / safe child’s play / secret smooching spots, they get them. Never see that photogaphed in a design mag/given an award!

  3. George Vieira
    September 2, 2014

    Nice share! It’s like seeing Olmsted’s ideas brought to life in the 21st century. It was always his ideal to have parks use plants that would naturally thrive in the local environment, and to allow nature to do most of the work. The ideal is to have those in charge of the park act as minimalist curators of nature’s wonders. Interfere only when absolutely necessary for the comfort of visitors.

    I love it!

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This entry was posted on July 18, 2014 by in Gardens, Paris, Parks and tagged , .

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