Wild City: Les Jardins du Ruisseau, Paris
All wildness is finer than tameness.
In an urban jungle I have been craving wild respite.
There’s something about being born in the country and then living in a city that makes you yearn after greenery. It’s a feeling that no number of balcony plants will fix.
I’m not alone.
Being outside makes us feel better; that’s a proven fact. Above and beyond that, working with our hands is good for us. There’s a whole book about it. Which is why the concept of an urban garden is so enticing; green space for city dwellers, where people are invited to spend time and get their hands dirty.
Les Jardins du Ruisseau is built alongside a section of the Petite Ceinture, a railway that once circled the city. In 2003 the City of Paris got behind supporting community gardens so that Parisians could get their hands dirty, and nowadays there are 70 jardin partagés throughout the city.
The first of these gardens was les Jardins du Ruisseau, and it has everything you’d ever want from an urban garden: garden space for members to grow vegetables, or the occasional strawberry plant and raspberry bush, tables for communal picnics, compost, chickens.
Yes, I said chickens.
Emily and I went to the garden for an afternoon break last week. The sun was out, the nasturtiums were blossoming. We sat and drank kombucha (homemade of course!) at the table and took in the warm afternoon. Surrounded by plants it was a calming comparison to the normal madness of Parisian life.
The plants were growing wildly, in every sense of the word, strawberries growing into flower beds, and wisteria crossing over the garden pathway.
This was no meticulous Parisian park. This was a glorious natural haven.
I was reminded of the John Muir quote. While this little square of wildness has nothing on what plants will do when there’s no gardener involved, it remains a much needed dose of nature. A reminder that nature prevails. That eventually our constructed world will disappear under the tangles of the vines that will cover it.
We all need a little wilderness in our everyday. Even if it’s just a breath.
I felt rejuvenated after just an hour in the garden. We chatted with the chickens, scoped out the compost. All things that make me happy. Simple things.
From train tracks to garden- that’s what I would call a good use of space.
You can have a taste of wilderness in the city, you just have to take the time to find it, and to make it.