(UPDATED VERSION 2019) Cherry blossom season in Paris is one of the most magical times of the year, and fortunately for all of us it tends to last awhile! Starting with the tiny pink flowers that are among the first signs of spring in late February and ending with fluffy full blossoms in mid-April, if you visit Paris in the spring you’re likely to find at least some form of pink blossoms. With this handy guide you’ll know exactly where to look for them!
The first flowers that tend to appear are the magnolia blossoms, and one of the best places to find them is the Jardin du Palais Royal. Bonus if they appear at the same time as the daffodils, or jonquilles in French- it makes the garden feel like a spring haven, especially when the rest of the city hasn’t quite shaken off winter yet.
Other places to find magnolia blossoms include the Eiffel Tower and the garden next to Hotel de Ville, the Jardin des Combattants Espagnols de la Nueve. This garden is only open on weekends, but is a gorgeous little haven in a very central part of the city to see some pink.
The other early-season pink flowers can be seen by the Eiffel Tower. These aren’t the fluffy cherry blossoms that come later in the season; they’re much more delicate and are the precursor to reddish-brown leaves. They tend to bloom in early to mid March. A lovely cluster of these trees can be found in Square Rene Viviani, just south of Notre Dame across the river.
April is when the big blossoms that the French refer to as cerisiers start to bloom, and that’s when the fluffy pink fun really begins. As usual, there are some to be found on the Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower, but the most popular ones are probably those in Square Jean XXIII on the south side of the Notre Dame cathedral. This is probably the most-photographed area for blossoms in the city, and is especially popular due to its many benches and large sandbox, so if you plan to photograph this one and want the benches empty, come early in the morning to beat the crowds. After this cluster, the trees in Jardin des Plantes are the next best known, especially the one gigantic tree whose branches reach almost to the ground and surround you in a cloud of pink petals.
Venturing to the northwestern part of the city, you’ll find a large grouping of trees in Parc Clichy-Batignolles, an area known to those in the neighborhood but not one of the most recognizable parks of the city, so you’ll have a chance to enjoy the blossoms in a calmer environment. Other beautifully blooming but lesser known parks include Square Marie Trintignant, in the 4th arrondissement by the river, and Jardin Saint Simonian hidden in a corner of the 20th. The latter tends to bloom around the same time as Parc Clichy-Batignolles, while the former is usually around the same time as those of Notre Dame.
Deserving an added mention are the trees in front of Shakespeare and Company, the famed English-language bookstore on the Left Bank across from Notre Dame. Several line the little street in front of the bookstore and add an extra springy touch to the already charming storefront. The light hits the trees in the morning, so if you plan to take pictures here, get there early!
One of my personal favorite spots is along the Allée Vivaldi, a stretch of sidewalk and grass making up part of the Coulée Verte (or Promenade Plantée as it is also known). Right around sunset, the way the light hits the trees is just magical.
Two new discoveries of this year are groups of four trees right at the exits of metro Falguière on line 12 and to the left of metro Saint Paul on line 1. At Falguière, you exit the metro, you’ll see pink petals even on the steps just leading out from the quais, until you’re greeted with a canopy of pink upon ascending the last staircase. It’s a sweet and bright spot, and a bit unexpected, in the heart of the 15th. The trees at Saint Paul aren’t directly at the metro exit but instead on the corner (in front of the newly opened HEMA store) and are a lovely pop of color on a classically Parisian street.
Tucked away in a back corner in the lower Marais near the Centre Pompidou, the Jardin Anne Frank is home to a beautiful set of trees that frame a grassy area and playground. Known mainly to locals, it’s a quiet little oasis to sit and read or just enjoy the blossoms on a nice day. This one hold special meaning for me, because it’s the place where I first met the older of the two girls I au paired for last year!
Also set just off the beaten path, just steps from the bustling Pont des Arts, is Square Gabriel Pierné. Situated just behind the Institut de France, not only is it calm, but you have the added bonus of getting the Institut’s stunning dome in your blossom pictures!
Last but most certainly not least, the most impressive grouping of cherry trees in the greater Paris area isn’t in the city at all, but south on the RER B in the Domaine de Sceaux (pronounced “sew”). Not only is the little chateau and its gardens picture-perfect, walking into the cherry orchard is like walking into pink fluffy heaven- the holy grail for the cherry blossom hunter. At their peak, there are blossoms as far as the eye can see, and on warm sunny days make an ideal canopy for a picnic on the grass. Photos are great but really don’t do it justice; it’s the kind of place that has to be seen to be believed.
Another great location outside of the city is in Vincennes, a posh suburb just to the east of the city. I snapped this photo of myself a few years back using my tripod and it is still one of my favorite photos out of the thousands I’ve taken!
Petit Palais, the end of the flatiron-esque building on Rue du Louvre, Square Berlioz (aka Place Adolphe Max), the gardens of the Archives Nationales (Hotel de Soubise), Place Cambronne (off of the line 6 stop of the same name in the 15th), Jardin Tino Rossi along the Seine across from Gare d’Austerlitz (great if you’re walking along the river from Notre Dame to Jardin des Plantes, as they all bloom around the same time usually), Place Franz Liszt.
TIP: Blossoms in general begin at the end of February/beginning of March and last through April, but it varies from year to year. In 2016, for example, the magnolias at Palais Royal were blooming by the last week of February, but the blossoms at Notre Dame only reached their peak the third week of April, while the ones at Sceaux didn’t even make it there until the last week.
In 2018, the blossoms at Notre Dame were out in full force by the second week of April. Since it can vary so much, I honestly suggest checking the location tags on Instagram if you really want to check out a particular place (like Sceaux) but don’t want to go that far only to be met with bare trees.
So there you have it! Are there any places you would add to this list? And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for updates on when the blooms appear each year!
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