Square Saint-Gilles Grand Veneur
It is unlikely that you would stumble upon this secret garden hidden behind the elegant Hôtel du Grand Veneur.
But if you did, you would find a tranquil and charming square rarely visited by tourists and often unknown to local Parisians.
Not far from the free museum dedicated to the history of Paris; Musée Carnavalet and leaving behind the busy Rue de Turenne, take a short walk down Rue Villehardouin until what will appear to be a dead end until you find tucked away in a corner, this iron gate, it will lead you into the quiet and pretty Square Saint-Gilles Grand Veneur – Pauline Roland.
In the warmer months the secret garden bursts into life. Large colourful roses dangle from the surrounding arbour and enhancing the scene is the backdrop of the ancient townhouse, once known as Hôtel d’Ecquevilly but now most commonly referred to as Hôtel du Grand Veneur.
The Hôtel particulier gained the nick-name Hôtel du Grand Veneur after changing hands a few times from when it was built in 1637 when the Marquis of Ecquevilly took up residence in 1733.
He was King Louis XV’s officer in charge of hunting or in French, the Grand Vaneur, the master of the hounds and evidence of his ownership can still be found on the façade’s decoration today.
A large sculptured corbel under the scalloped balcony, represents a wild boar’s head.
Dogs can be found gracing the door knocker on the main façade on Rue de Turenne.
Also above the bright blue door a pack of hunting hounds are depicted at either side of another boar head.
The small secret garden, Square Saint-Gilles Grand Veneur – Pauline Roland pays tribute to Calvados born, mother of two, friend of George Sand and feminist and socialist; Pauline Roland.
She spent 18 years of her life fighting for equality of the sexes and for women remaining in the work force, which subsequently landed her in jail for 7 months.
Upon the death of her friend and fellow collegue Flora Tristan, she took on the responsibility of raising Tristan’s daughter Aline Chazal, who would later become the mother of artist Paul Gauguin.
Pauline Roland died in 1852 as a result of her incarceration from a year and a half earlier.
Whether you decide on a quick stroll around to discover a secret hideaway in the centre of the Marais or use the opportunity to take a quiet break with a picnic lunch baguette and bottle of wine on a bench while you admire the façade of the grand Hôtel Particulier and soak up a piece of Parisian history away from the hustle and bustle and queues of the main monuments, you will no doubt feel rewarded that you found this delightful secret treasure.
There are many secret treasures to be discovered in Paris, you just need to know where to find them.
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Create your own discovery of the Marais with nearby places below : Check the MAP to plan your tour.
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