It was a particularly cold day when I visited Jardin de l’Hôtel de Sens, 7, rue des Nonnains-d’Hyères. November days in Paris tend to be dreary and it is difficult to wake up in the morning when it is warm inside your apartment with a fresh kettle of tea brewing on the kitchen counter.
On the morning that I found this place, I was headed to another park around the corner, Square Roger-Priou Valjean. There are many small, unassuming parks that sit along the Seine of the Right Bank, and if you turn towards rue des Nonnains-d’Hyères, you will find them without much difficulty.
There will be few visitors in these petite parks (if there is anyone at all), and in Jardin de l’Hôtel de Sens I watched a man walk the intricate pathways of the garden, talking to himself, making a mental note that he had discovered something important and necessary. After a few minutes he exited the park and walked along the quai, and then he faded from my vision.
In my book, Hidden Parks of Paris, this park is in a series of parks that are stitched together in the fourth arrondissement. Tourists make their way along the boundaries of Jardin de l’Hôtel de Sens, but often they do not find it because it’s slightly below street level. Because of this feature, it makes for a place without much street noise in the centre of town. It is a good spot to sit for an intimate conversation after a walk through the Marais.
It began to rain when I finished taking notes. I sat near the long black gate and watched the cars in the distance driving along the Seine. This is a park that would be ideal to visit in summer, when the weather is warm and the skies are clear. But to me I will always remember the darkened skies, the light mist, and my hands shivering and numb from writing in winter.
Gregory Ross is the author of the Hidden Parks of Paris, the first-ever travel book on the parks of Paris. It is available now on Amazon. He currently lives in Honolulu.