14.1.13

A private park



This is the largest non-public garden in Paris. Most of the time it’s empty of people… except for the gardeners, who keep it in a perfect shape  Since January, it’s open to public the first Saturday afternoon each month. I was there at the premiere.

We are in the garden of Hôtel Matignon, the official residence of the Prime Minister. The garden and the mansion date from the beginning of the 18th century. The place has been owned by families like Luxembourg, Matignon, Grimaldi (Monaco) until the Revolution, then by a dancer, by Talleyrand… and after the Restoration of the Royalty, by a Duchess of Bourbon, who made it to some kind of nunnery, by a wealthy American… For a while it was in competition with the Elysée Palace to become the home of the head of the State. It was then owned by the Family Galliera, who, when France again had become a Republic, here invited 3000 persons to celebrate the wedding of a French princess with the heir of the Portuguese throne.  This was ”too much” for the republicans and led to the exiling of the French throne pretenders. Matignon then housed the Embassy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, becoming “enemy property” during WWI. For a while thought to be a museum, it became finally as from 1935 the headquarters of the President of the Council, as from 1958 of the Prime Minister.

Obviously, few people were informed, as it was still possible to take photos giving the impression that the garden was empty. The garden is a mixture of the typical French garden and some more “romantic” parts. There is a special charm even a grey winter day, but I may return in April or May…


There are very few statues.


At the extreme end of the garden is the building. It was Saturday afternoon, but one could see a few lights is some of the rooms, including the one of the Prime Minister. It’s obvious that at present no rest is allowed to our political leaders.



A few trees have been there for centuries, but since 1976 each Prime Minister has planted a new tree or bush – obviously with the exception of Jacque Chirac. Maybe he planted something in the Elysée Palace gardens later. 


This gives us the opportunity to check who the occupants have been since then.






I was not quite alone and some journalists were of course present. I was even interviewed by a TV channel, but I doubt that it was broadcast.


The official entrance to Matignon is on rue de Varenne, but unless you have a personal invitation by the Prime Minister, I guess you will have to use the back entrance from Rue de Babylone and go through a severe security control.


23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tour, Peter...
Thank you so much!
Maria

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

You solved a mystery for me! I had seen this garden space on Google Maps previously, but did not know what it was. I knew it was not a park, but wondered at so much green space in that area.

Now I know. Thanks!

Fantastic pictures and presentation, as always!

Karin

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

P.S. Just curious. What did the journalists ask you? (If you are willing to share!)

French Girl in Seattle said...

Bonsoir Peter. I had never visited the gardens of Hôtel Matignon. Very interesting. Great tradition about tree planting, and a creative idea to show us the long succession of French prime ministers and "their trees..."
I can't believe Jean Marc Zéro... sorry... Ayrault, has already had the time to play gardener. He's only been there for a few months... :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Mystica said...

Another unknown, unsung gem discovered courtesy of you!

ALAIN said...

Il y a assez de place pour faire du jogging, mais je ne suis pas certain que tous nos premiers ministres en aient fait.

Cezar and Léia said...

Wonderful sculptures, this park is adorable!
Léia

SusuPetal said...

It would be heaven to sit in that garden and listen to silence.

claude said...

J'ai vu un reportage l'autre jour à la télé sur ce magnifique parc qui est ouvert au publique je crois une fois par mois. Il faut croire qu'il y a encore de la place dans ce parc pour y planter un nouvel arbre à chaque nouveau premier ministre.
En tous les cas en ce qui concerne le dernier, ils n'ont pas perdu de temps. Dès fois que...

Thérèse said...

Un plaisir de se promener avec ton oeil dans ce parc seulement visionne lors de divers evenements a la television... j'avais vu la nouvelle mais ne connaissais pas les jours ouvrables, je note donc.
Encore une fois bravo pour les details d'informations.

Synne said...

I had no idea where the prime minister resided until now. This place looks very pretty, and I like the tradition of planting trees! Thanks, Peter!

Christine said...

Thank you so much for this very informative walk. I do so enjoy learning these little details - little to you but wonderful to me.

Look forward to seeing the Park in Summer.

Vagabonde said...

This is quite a lovely park and I am duly impressed that you were invited to visit it. Thanks for giving us all the pertinent information.

Starman said...

Great post. I also like the ad for the online casino!

Peter Olson said...

Starman: Another spam, among many... Deleted! :-)

redheadwithglasses said...

Beautiful grounds. I'm reminded of walking to the Musee Rodin and passing so many guards. But they weren't interested in me and it was fine. The buildings are so intriguing...Ah, but to be a fly on the wall as they say!

Delphinium said...

Si tu es reçu à l'hôtel Matignon... c'est que tu deviens célèbre. enfin. :-)))
!

M said...

Another lovely, green respite in Paris ... Thank you for bringing it to life for us :)

hpy said...

C'est bien d'ouvrir ce lieu au public - au moins de temps en temps.

Cergie said...

Il a l'air un peu tristounet ce parc mais bon tu donnes envie d'aller voir de visu... Lorsque nous avons visité le jardin de l'ambassadeur de GB en France nous avions consigne de ne pas photographier la résidence...

Vagabonde said...

Thanks for coming to my post and making a good catch. I got lost among all my French queens. It was Queen Consort Catherine de Medici of course. It has been a long time since I studied my French history...Thanks.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

What a gorgeous park with carefully planted trees, and a lawn that is surely resting in the winter. The green is especially vibrant. You run in some very fine circles, mon ami!

Bises,
Genie

Nathalie Beaumes said...

What a great idea to open these huge gardens to the public once a month. You really get invited to all the major events now, don't you?

I loved the choice of tree made by the various prime ministers - reflecting their personality I presume?