‘April in Paris, this is a feeling that no one can ever reprise …’ So the song goes. Many have waxed lyrical about Paris in the Springtime. As Henry Miller once noted, ‘When Spring comes to Paris, the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise.’ And it’s true: there’s nothing like a Parisian Springtime for restoring the faith in the beauty of the world. But planning a Spring jaunt to Paris can be a tricky affair, because when the season blooms into reality depends on the mildness, or not, of the preceding winter. And April, despite the promise of that song, can actually be one of the rainiest, dreariest of times. I was lucky to find myself there just as a hot spell hit, and just as the cherry blossoms decided to roll out the pink carpet. It was utter bliss — something everyone needs to experience at least once in her lifetime. Paris just comes so wonderfully alive and it’s infectious. Everyone is smiling and drinking rosé en terrasse and playing boules in the park … There are new-season macarons in flavours such as lily of the valley, and pretty floral dresses in the shop windows. And real blooms are everywhere, turning a usually demure city of stone into a riot of colour. So start planning a springtime Paris sojourn soon if you can — and here’s a guide on the flowers to spot while you’re there.
In Paris, magnolias tend to be the first spring flowers to rear their pretty purple and pink heads — this happens at the start of the season, usually in early March. They’re most sweetly on display in the gardens of the Palais-Royal, where they’re often worked back to daffodils, those other happy, hopeful early bloomers. Just make sure you still have your winter layers on.
Paris goes all la vie en rose when the cherry blossoms burst forth, for a couple of glorious weeks in March or April (they’re perhaps the most teasing of all the flowers, keeping us in suspense for so long — but when they bring it, it’s more than worth the wait). The cérisiers of the Champ de Mars and the Jardins du Trocadéro make for wonderful photographs that contrast the fluffiness of the pink flowers with the dark iron of the Eiffel Tower. And one of the most exuberantly large blossom trees can be found at the Jardin des Plantes. But perhaps the most breathtaking are those that cluster just to the south of Notre-Dame — they truly make you believe in a higher divinity.
While you’re at the Jardin des Plantes, pop into the gardens of the nearby Grande Mosquée of Paris to see if the waterfall of wisteria has added lovely splashes of lilac to the green and blue tones of this tranquil, delightfully place. One of the other most spectacular wisteria sights is at Au Vieux Paris on the Île de la Cité’s Rue Chanoinesse, when the flowers cascade fabulously down the quaint old restaurant’s façade. I was there a little too early to capture it in its full lavender loveliness., but this photo gives you an idea of the cuteness to come.
By late April, the luxuriant Judas Trees (or Cercis Siliquastrum, for any botany buffs out there) of the Tuileries are at their best, with their gorgeous sprays of magenta-pink blossoms. You haven’t done Paris in the Spring unless you take some time sitting on one of the famous green chairs, a takeaway chocolat chaud from Angelina in hand, admiring these beautiful trees, which the talented gardeners of the Tuileries pair wonderfully with rainbow-bright tulips.
Horse Chestnut Tree
These signature trees of the City of Light are also abloom by late April, and can be found all over Paris. But my favourites are in the Place Dauphine, where they cluster together so prettily in the triangular park there, their pink flowers setting off the old red-brick-and-stone buildings so nicely. Work the theme back to a glass of rosé at one of the lovely restaurants that border the square. La vie rarely gets better than at moments like this.