The Swiss Valley (La Vallée Suisse)
It is a place designed to disappear into, to be enveloped in a tapestry of leaves. The plants have taken over. The gardener has gone home. It is a place ripe with stories to tell, of the writers and artists who stood below the branches of contemplation. The infinite stream. Listen and it will sing. It flows coolly in the background and absorbs the noise from blocks away, where the cars and trucks pass by.
Bees dance in the sunlight. Through the wilderness, you will see the towering white pillars of Palais de la Découverte. Office workers make their way down the steps to have a smoke, drink a coffee, or often, both. This park is the reason why this book began. It is the definition of hidden. To walk amid the maples, lilacs, bamboo, drooping flowers, to smell the sweetness in the air, to listen to the flow of water in the background reminds me why I created this book in the first place. It’s about wonder. It is about the hidden places in plain sight.
The shadows creep over the vines at just the right hour, when the sun is beginning its slow decent into the river. This park is an enduring gift to the city of Paris, a garden that is frequented by more species of birds than by foot traffic. To appreciate the full effect of this park, enter on avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt, where a miniature white statue of the Swiss Alps rests beside a mountain of green. Roman columns are planted like tree trunks beneath the vines. Find the stone staircase that looks like it has no earthy reason in being there. Walk under the stone archway and look at what wilderness you have discovered.
Hidden Parks of Paris by Gregory Ross. Published by Editions L’improviste. 212 pages. Excerpt reprinted with permission from the author.