Parc de Bagatelle credit Paris 16
Parc de Bagatelle
Bagatelle has not only an atmosphere of poetic beauty and serenity on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne close to the bustle of Paris, but is also a place of great historical and horticultural interest.
Its history stretches back almost three centuries, embracing such characters as the Marechale Duc d’Estrees, the Marquise de Monconseil, the Comte d’Artois, Lord Seymour and his adopted son Sir Richard Wallace, all of them successive owners of this estate, bringing in their wake the Regent, Louis XV, Marie-Antoinette, Napoleon III and many more.
The park here tells the wonderful story of the art of landscape gardening, its development, and the changes in fashion in garden layout. Bagatelle is in fact a juxtaposition of various styles and influences. It is also the result of successive modifications and extensions lasting over a period of more than two hundred years.
The château, an 18th century ‘folly’, was the result of a bet between the Count d’Artois and his sister-in-law Marie-Antoinette. The Petit Palais and its anglo-chinese garden were built in two months at the end of 1777 to welcome the sovereign on his return from Fontainebleau. The Scottish gardener Thomas Blaikie was commissioned to lay out the new grounds.
In the 19th century Lord Seymour, Marquis of Hertford, and his son developed and added to the property; but it was in 1905 that J. C. N. Forestier, keeper of the Bois de Boulogne, made the iris garden and the famous roseraie. The roseraie was created with a major contribution from Jules Gravereaux, the ‘father’ of the rose garden in L’Haÿ-les-Roses. Strictly laid out in the purest of French styles, 9000 roses from 1000 varieties are in bloom in June.
The charm of Bagatelle lies in its scenic variety; the water lilies, the big rockery, the orangery and its floral parterres, the footpaths in tunnels cut in the greenery, big spaces planted with trees. These all combine to make it a park dear to the hearts of Parisians.
The small château itself now belongs to the City of Paris and is used for exhibitions, concerts and cultural events.