I walk past these massive, red doors most days, but I’ve never seen them open before. Sometimes as someone goes in or out of the small, pedestrian door there’s a glimpse of space and a flash of green beyond, before the door closes again.  Yesterday, thanks to a conscientious decorator and slow-drying gloss paint, the doors stood wide open all day.

The doors face onto a narrow street, shaded by high buildings built straight on to the pavement either side.   The view opened up through the doorway is surprisingly light and bright, even on a grey day.  An open, stone paved courtyard and five large, evergreen magnolias, planted in matching Versailles boxes.  That’s all.


It’s not a garden, but that’s not surprising.  This is the cour d’honneur of a grand, seventeenth century hôtel particulier, built originally as the home of a single household, (a wealthy, extended family and the servants to maintain them).  The hôtels typically have a paved entrance court and a second, garden court beyond the main residence.  This building, unusually, is sideways on to the road.  I know it has a real garden, hidden behind a high wall along the street. Yellow, climbing roses tumble out over the wall in summer and a blackbird sings there.

The cour d’honneur was the front drive of a seventeenth century town house, with stabling for a horse or four, depending on your status.  Some are now just car parks but quick glimpses suggest that many are quiet spaces like this one.  Light and air and a touch of green.


Another post linked to Thursday Doors.