The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Public promenades in France

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238.The public gardens and promenades of France are numerous and well arranged. Most of the towns, being fortified, have no suburbs; and the instant a rambler passes the barriere, he finds himself in the open and cultivated country. Except in Normandy and some parts of Touraine, there are no hedgerows, or shady fields intersected by paths; consequently very few towns have any country walks. The mildness of the climate makes the people enjoy passing much of their time in the open air, and their social disposition inclines them to congregate together. Public gardens and promenades thus become necessary appendages to every town in France; particularly as the growth and beauty of the plants and trees which they contain are not liable to be injured, as with us, by a dense atmosphere loaded with coal smoke: and what can be a greater luxury than to find in the centre of a large city a beautiful public garden with its open scenes of gaiety and bustle; the distant hum of men heard in the stillness of its thick and shady groves; its lengthened perspectives of trees, vistas, statues, and fountains; its coffee and refreshments; its music and dancing on certain occasions; and, finally, the sprinkling of mind which is thrown over the whole by the scattered stations of those who hire out chairs and periodical literature ! It would take too much space to mention even a small proportion of the public gardens in France; but as they all are nearly alike, a few will serve to give a clear idea of the rest.