The Hotel Matignon is the residence and place of work of the French Prime Minister, and has been since 1935. It is a beautiful early 18th century mansion, set in a large park in the 7th arrondissement, at 3 hectares (7.5 acres) it is the largest private garden in the city.
Normally you can’t visit, but this weekend parks and gardens all across France open to the public for the Rendez-vous aux Jardins, and Matignon exceptionally opens the doors of its magnificent park.
The mansion once belonged to the Grimaldi family, princes of Monaco, and was then home to the Duchess of Galleria and later the Comte de Paris. The 18th century gardens are mainly laid out in the French formal style, but in the 19th century a more romantic section was also added, as was a spectacular double allée of 111 pleached limes. Later an entertaining area was designed in front of the house. One of the gardeners described to us how the lawn was imagined to look like an ocean, with white flowers planted across it here and there in ribbons to ressemble the froth on the waves, and how banqueting tables would be laid under the trees, with carpets spread across the lawn to dance on.
Nowadays it’s perhaps a little less glamorous, especially as the government tries to cut back on their spending, but it’s still an incredible and beautiful garden, and such an expanse of lush greenery is something quite unexpected in the heart of a city.
- Hotel Matignon, 57 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris. Entrance to the gardens at 36 rue de Babylone. metro: rue du Bac or Varenne
Rendez-vous aux jardins continues tomorrow. Check their website (in English) for details of gardens participating.