Things to do in Paris: A Secret Garden


Alfred de Musset statue

If we talk about the Grand Palais, there’s not much we can say that you won’t already know or find elsewhere. BUT we can talk to you about something right beside it, something that remains a well-kept secret, even for locals; and that you can now add to your things to do in Paris list.
You might have passed by this place without even noticing it; which is why it’s so special. Behind the Grand Palais, at the crossroads between Av. Franklin Roosevelt and Le Cours de la Reine, you’ll find a monument in stone, dedicated to poet Alfred de Musset, and on its right, you’ll see a little hidden door that will take you to a timeless and tiny English-style garden: le Jardin de la Nouvelle France (previously known as the Swiss Valley).

photo by

A path of stairs under the arched door will guide you to a minuscule pond surrounded by lush green vegetation, you won’t believe you eyes, and even better, you won’t believe you’re in Paris right near the turmoil of Champs Elysées. 


photo by Victoria Paternó 

You can sit quietly on a bench and get lost in a book or just listen to the sounds of nature. When you go up to the next level, you’ll find information panels about the story of this little wonderland that houses flowers and plants from the Alps.

After this respite you might find yourself getting hungry, and you are in a zen state of mind so you cannot deal with an over-crowded bistro with people yelling back and forth, quel bordel! If you want a place that matches your current mood, you need to walk a few steps until you get to the Grand Palais´ little sibling, just next door. 

Petit Palais interior photo by Victoria Paternó 

Le Petit Palais is not only an exhibition space, it’s also home to a beautiful café/restaurant pertinently called Le Petit Jardin, located in an interior garden with mosaic floors and exotic vegetation. Although it can be slightly on the tripisty side, you’ll also see locals enjoying this special setting; and on a sunny day, you’ll see everyone sitting on the steps with a book in hand and a drink in the other one, a peaceful oasis with a change of scenery guaranteed. Entrance to the Petit Palais’ permanent exhibition is free.

Petit Palais photo by Victoria Paternó 

Le Petit Jardin
Tues-Sun 10 a.m.-5:15 p.m. / till 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays
Menu: plat du jour + dessert €15.90
T: 01 40 07 11 41

Victoria is the author and photographer behind the Further Off Blog.

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