Private Courtyards

Somewhere in Paris

Interior Courtyards

Somewhere in Paris

Interior Courtyards

Private Courtyard

Many of the buildings in Paris are built around an open-air interior courtyard, so the doors lead out to a small garden rather than a foyer with a stairwell or elevator to the apartments above. The Haussmann reconstruction deliberately designed these little courtyards for better air circulation; previously, the buildings were tiny tenements without plumbing or proper ventilation. Nowadays, one or both of the front doors is left open if there is a gallery or store on the ground floor inside, inviting anyone to come in. True, these courtyards aren’t entirely “private” in those cases. The open ones made me a bit too comfortable with the idea of exploring these little spaces and caused me to wander past doors that were left open by the concierge (caretaker) of a residential building or two, into a courtyard that wasn’t meant to be wandered into. L’oops. I just had to know what goes on in there! Behind every door was an opportunity for wonder: were there plants? Cobblestones? Laundry strung up on lines? I never got caught (I am very, very sneaky) which only served to reinforce my curiosity. There is something fantastic and strange about seeing a beautiful staircase outside, snaking up to apartments inside. I drew the line at going inside; even I have limits, and I didn’t want to get arrested. Something tells me there aren’t macarons in French prisons.

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August 25, 2014 / art / photo / Travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 13

13 comments

  • Moi aussi j’aime beaucoup ces cours privé. Dans ma ville il y en a beaucoup mais la plus part son fermé bien sûre, de fois quand j’arrive à apercevoir l’intérieur de une, je suis très contente comme si je rentrée dans un monde secret. Très belles photos !
    Ils ton bien informé; pas des macarons dans le prisons! que de l’eau et du pain ;) xo

  • courtyards are so alluring – there’s something about being “hidden” that makes it such a curious mystery. i love that you braved those opens spaces to see what lied within, plus the photos are pretty gorge, so #win! good thing you’ve got the “sneakiness” down. ;)

  • Private courtyards are so pretty. And photogenic, as you rightfully showed us. I used to have one where I lived, and there were so many plants you had to zigzag your way into your building. Really pretty, but not convenient when your arms are full of grocery bags. :)

  • i love the courtyards. the trees, the cobblestone, the buildings. it’s all just so picturesque.

  • Oh yes! The lure of a big Parisian door, behind which you know there has to be….. Some sort of a delightful interior courtyard .

    We weren’t as brave as you, when we were there. -sigh- But still, the lure!!!!

    Thank you for taking me, where I could not go. :-)

    Tessa~

  • Oh qu’est ce que c’est mignon ces petites cours privées. J’adore tomber dessus par hasard :) xx

  • I, like you, would not have been able to resist the temptation of wandering around and seeing what was just beyond the next corner. Undoubtedly I’d be in French prison :)

  • beautiful pics. I often sneak into these courtyards too when I’m in Paris :)

  • Re: Your comment in my blog: “You know, they had a long romance following the filming of that movie, those two.”

    The way I read it, Isabella Rossellini took the part in “Immortal Beloved,” because she wanted to meet Gary Oldman. Because she too, was caught up in Gary Oldman-obsessiveness! ,-) (Which you and I, shared with her.)

    And of course, all she needed to do, was meet and work with him. And her “abilities” did the rest.

    And that was why I wanted to see the film! That background info. Love background stuff, on films! :-)

    Tessa~

  • Those doors and what lies beyond on them are too alluring not to see what’s on the other side. A lifetime or any extended amount of time without macarons is cause for cruel and unusual punishment; although, I’m sure being deprived of macarons is the last thing on convicts minds.

    Also, I’m glad you decided not to set up a shop on Society6 (although I’m not knocking anyone that does). I’ve ordered from there before; if it’s just a graphic print then the quality is fine, photographs and reproductions of paintings are hit and miss. I can’t wait to hear what your plans are!

  • ohhh those shadowy steps are something to dream of. i would like to sneak into some courtyards next time i visit paris. i know when i visited savannah, some of the historic homes had fences around the perimeter, draped in ivy, and if you look through it, you can see some magical courtyards.

  • I just tumbled into your blog-world and have just found how I am going to pass my evening! So intrigued and thrilled for you about your novel. We are living outside of Paris and am trying to think up a fun birthday outing into the city for my 8 year-old. Any tips?

    • Bonjour Anna! That’s so sweet :) Happy almost-birthday to your kiddo! I’m partial to Montmartre, and the view of the city from Sacré Cœur is really spectacular, and there are always performers there at night on the steps. Right around the corner from the church is the Place du Tertre, which is filled with artists painting and sketching and who happily do portraits. Kids like having their picture painted, don’t they? Could be fun! And you could stop for gelato at Amorino on Rue des Abbesses; they make the gelato look like flower petals on the cone.

      Of course, there’s always the indulgent Chocolat Africain at Angelina, on the Rue de Rivoli. The tearoom itself is incredible, and feels very luxe. Of course, you could always get a cup and some snacks to go, and take them the Tuileries across the street. There are several playgrounds and a carousel near the Rue de Castiglione entrance. A trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower would be hard to beat, but make sure you book tickets online in advance! The lines will put a damper on the whole celebration ;) Have fun!! xo