As the leaves thin and fall from the lime trees, the structure of the carefully pruned branches is revealed again. The classic style of French landscape design, as seen in Place des Vosges, depends on careful control of all the elements: balanced, symmetrical design, allées of matching trees, neatly clipped topiary, smooth lawns and swept paths. The careful design and maintenance of this square seems to be reflected in the care with which people use the space but that doesn’t mean it’s lifeless or restrictive.
From November until Easter the lawns are in their winter repose and out of bounds; for now they’re open to everyone. In the summer it seems to be generally accepted that there’s no room for ball games between the picnickers and the sunbathers, though there are no signs to prohibit them. Today I was intrigued to see how six boys, of assorted ages and sizes, were managing to fit a lively game of football into the restricted space of one of the lawns. The goals were the classic piles of jumpers, the ball was quickly retrieved if it strayed onto the gravel path. People strolling, following tottering toddlers or supporting elderly parents, stepped good-naturedly round the game.
Place des Vosges is a beautiful, historic site and one of the main tourist attractions in the Marais. It’s also a neighbourhood square and the back garden of everybody in the quartier. The city council is generally good at maintaining public green space. On the whole, the citizens of Paris seem to be good at using that space carefully. Which comes first?
The fallen leaves won’t lie long. They’ll be swept up on Monday.
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Careful.”