Secret Garden Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu
No matter how long or far you have strolled around Paris, explored narrow cobbled laneways or ventured into private courtyards, there is no chance that you would simply stumble across this secret garden and courtyard without knowing where to find it.
If you love discovering hidden treasures in Paris and are looking for a little adventure, sneak into Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu to see a delightful hidden oasis in a very unusual location, but let’s keep it our secret.
Located right in the centre of Paris, next to the Notre Dame Cathedral where thousands of tourists pass by each day without an inkling that it exists.
Let’s image you visited the Notre Dame and need a little respite away from the crowds, somewhere quiet where you can sit down, relax and rest your weary feet.
With your back facing the Notre Dame cross the road, diagonally to the right and find the main entrance to Hôtel-Dieu, Paris’ oldest hospital.
Enter through the main doors, turn left and then right.
Be confident and quiet, you are going to visit your sick Aunt, right?
et voilà, you are in!
Founded in 651 when poverty was rampant, Hotel Dieu began as a general institution to look after the poor and sick, offering food and shelter in addition to medical care.
The hospital was ravaged by several fires and the current building dates back to 1877.
The concept of this original hospital was to aid the poor and funded by charity. It wasn’t until the end of the 18th century that it became a place to cure the sick.
Napoleon ordered part of the hospital to be rebuilt after another fire destroyed a large part of the building.
For the past 50 years, the hospital has specialised in the field of diabetes and associated illnesses including the research of new insulins, the effects of nutrition and artificial pancreas.
Perhaps you could play a little Chopin, allowing the music to waft up to the patients that occupy the 349 beds in what is regarded as the oldest, still operating hospital in the world.
This ancient courtyard and secret garden offers a quiet moment to relax and explore without the usual tourists that descend upon the city.
Wander around and admire the garden pots that will be brimming with colourful flowers in the warmer months but keep it our little secret and hopefully it will stay that way so we can pop in for a little respite when we are in the area.
Paris has many hidden treasures, you just need to know where to find them.
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