This weekend's off the beaten track site is Le Jardin d'Agronomie Tropicale: The Garden of Tropical Agriculture. Credit for this off the beaten track post goes to to Kerouac2 whose awesome photo essay on the Any Port in a Storm website introduced me onto this garden. Kerouac2 called it the "Abandoned Garden of Desolation" which is a pretty good description.
|The entrance to the Jardin|
Visit this garden and the chances are you will be alone (or close to alone - when I went there was a small French tour group being guided around and maybe 3 other people) with the ghosts of France past.
|Statues from the 1907 colonial exhibition|
|Memories of the Indochinese colony|
|Many of these statues have seen better days|
|Dilapidated statues in the park|
|Some of the old glasshouses|
In 1907 the park became the site of the colonial exhibition. Six 'villages' were developed with the monuments representing the French colonies of the time. These were Indochina, Madagascar, Congo, Sudan, Tunisia and Morocco, Not only were monuments and buildings set up, but people from the colonies were bought to Paris to live in the villages, making them a live display, or what has been called a 'human zoo'. RFI France have an interesting article on the 1097 colonial exhibition in English.
|Walking through the Jardin|
After the exhibition was finished, the park was later used as a hospital for French colonial troops from the first world war, and was the site of the first mosque in Paris. This was removed when the new mosque was built in the 5th arrondisement. Also erected were memorials to the colonial troops who fought and died for France in the war.
|Memorial for the troops colonial troops from Cambodia |
and Laos who died fighting for France
|Memorial for the colonial soldiers from Madagascar|
|Memorial for the Indochinese who died fighting for France|
|One of the abandoned pavilions|
|Another deserted pavilion|
|The restored Indochina pavilion|
|Part of the remains of the Indochina village|
|Another view of the Indochina village|
|The burnt out Congo Pavilion|
|One of Johann le Guillerm's sculptures|
|Another of Johann le Guillerm's sculptures|
|Johann le Guillerm's incorporated into one of the dilapidated pavilions|
|A view across the park|
|One of the Indochinese bridges with its pond and waterfall|
How to get there: Take the RER A line to Nogent-sur-Marne. This is in the 3rd zone, so if you are travelling from Paris you will need to buy a specific ticket for this (ie the Paris Metro T+ ticket won't let you out). Take exit #1 from the Nogent-sue_Marne RER station and the direction to the park is well sign-posted from outside the door - follow the signs to Jardin Tropical. It is left from the station, take the first right, and follow this to the end. It is a 5 minute walk from the RER station to the garden.
|Exit #1 from the RER|
You can see the first sign to the Jardin through the door
For other activities that are off the beaten track and to get a taste of the real France, explore options for day trips from Paris using public transport on www.beyond-paris.com.