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April in Paris…What Have You Done to My Heart?

You know the old song, “April in Paris” written by Vernon Duke and E. Y. (Yip) Harburg?…

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace

Till April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris, this is a feeling
That no one can ever reprise

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never knew my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace

Till April in Paris
Whom can I run to
What have you done to my heart?

As I understand it, these two songwriters of Broadway and film fame, never stepped a foot in Paris! Yet, their powerful words have managed to influence the world to come to Paris in the month of April, even though the weather is still cold and rainy — not what I think of Paris’ most glorious time of year.

Nonetheless, Easter Sunday in the Jardins des Tuileries, Spring was finally evident. Even though we are still donning our turtlenecks, scarves, hats and gloves, the trees are popping out fresh green leaves, the daffodils are blooming and the tulips are coming up proud and tall. The children are propelling sailboats in the garden ponds under gray skies, umbrellas are in hand waiting for the endless misty rain and Parisians will not be daunted by the lack of a Spring.

The massive stretch of gardens between Place de la Concorde and Le Louvre have a long and dark history, not to be dismissed lightly. Wikipedia has a good account of all that took place on this spot between 1564 and now, when after the death of King Henry II in 1559, his widow Catherine de’ Medici planned a new palace. More than 300 years later, the palace she built, renovated, reconfigured and resided in by many, was burned to the ground in 1871 and left a stone shell until 1882 when the French National Assembly voted for the demolition of the ruins.

Today, Place de la Concorde anchors the park on the west with two museums situated like outstretched arms: The Jeu de Paume (on the north) and the Musée de l’Orangerie (on the south). Ed Ruscha’s photographic works are on display at the Jeu de Paume until the end of this month, an exhibition organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and worth a special visit before it closes. The Orangerie is currently under renovation and is scheduled to reopen with an exhibition in November of this year — “Orangerie, 1934 : les Peintres de la réalité.”

If starting from Concorde, stroll past the first pond to a glass-walled café on the left: Café Very – Dame Tartine. Along with several others, but not of equal standard, the Tuileries cafés provide very
civilized and affordable dining under the trees.

When the weather warms, take an arm chair and allow the white sandy gravel to reflect the sun and speed up your Summer tan. Or find a bench under the cool shady trees for a quiet repose. Most visitors, I believe, simply stroll the length as a perfect alternative to rue de Rivoli to reach Place du Carrousel, Cour Napoléon, La Pyramide and Le Louvre. Once you’ve taken this pleasant promenade, and you’re ready for a snack, continue through the Cour Carrée to 2 rue de Admiral de Coligny where the elegant and sumptuous Cador Salon de Thé decorated with marble-topped tables, molded ceilings and chandeliers awaits you with scrumptious cakes and tarts, teas and coffees.

April in Paris…what have you done to my heart?

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

P.S. Just this morning I updated the electronic Insider Paris Guide for Good Value Restaurants (online since 1996) — with more than 200 restaurants in all 20 arrondissements I personally recommend for quality and affordability. Scroll down for a sample restaurant or visit


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