June is the month of the rose, a flower that strikes me as being quintessentially Parisian. Sure, the rose is internationally beloved, having a long history in China, Greece, Egypt, Rome, the Middle East, England … but it just seems so perfectly at home in Paris.
Maybe it’s because my first-ever perfume was the olfactory bouquet of roses that is YSL Paris, or because one of the first things I eat every time I’m in town is a Ladurée Ispahan, or because of the city’s florists that spill over with roses all over the footpaths …
But perhaps it’s also because the rose is a flower that urges you to stop and appreciate life’s little moments, to savour its small pleasures — just as Paris itself teaches you to revel in the present.
You can sit and ponder the beauty and meaning of life all over Paris, smelling the roses and all that, but where better to do so than in one of its rose gardens? Here are five of the city’s prettiest …
Parc de Bagatelle
This whimsical, folly-filled park, on the city’s western edge, is a lovely escape at any time of year, but it comes beautifully alive in summer, when the formal rose garden is in full bloom. An international competition for new roses has been held here for over a century, and countless contenders are on vibrant, fragrant display throughout June and July.
There are few more inspiring places in Paris for smelling the roses (both figurative and literal) than at the feet of Auguste Rodin’s iconic sculpture The Thinker.
Jardin du Palais-Royal
The spring and summer profusion of Pierre de Ronsard roses here is breathtaking, but various roses bloom throughout the year in this haven of tranquillity, which is centrally located and the ideal spot for stopping to revive both spirits and energy levels. The perfect pick-me-up to match it to: a box of macarons from nearby Angelina … in the ‘rose’ flavour, of course!
Musée de la Vie Romantique
How can you resist a place called the Museum of Romantic Life? This adorable cottage, set within a storybook rose-infused garden, once belonged to Romantic painter Ary Scheffer, and the museum is dedicated to him and his soulful friends, particularly the writer George Sand. There’s no better spot for reading beautiful poetry or flowery prose than in the glasshouse terrace café, aptly named Rose Bakery.
Jardin des Plantes
There’s so much to sigh over in Paris’s botanical garden: the National Museum of Natural History with its stunning Grand Gallery of Evolution, a labyrinth crowned with an eighteenth-century gazebo, the quirky Dodo Manège, a carousel dedicated to extinct and endangered animal … And, of course, all sorts of botanical gorgeousness. Including roses! Make time to meander through the fairytale-worthy Allée des Roses, which boasts hundreds of varieties of its namesake flower.