Destinations / France / Paris

Watch the Cherry Trees Bloom at the Jardin des Plantes

For the past few years, it has been fashionable to seek out places to observe cherry blossoms outside of Japan (the traditional hanami), and Paris is no exception. Thanks to its old cherry tree (sato sakura), the Jardin des Plantes has become one of the go-to places. To me, it’s indeed one of the nicest places to celebrate the blossoming of many flowers in springtime, including the cherry trees!

The Venerable Sato-Zakura cherry tree of the Jardin des Plantes

Sato Zakura old cherry tree Jardin des Plantes
The Sato Zakura at theJardin des Plantes, 2022

It’s the superstar of the Jardin des Plantes due to its width and isolation, allowing observers to admire the magnificent tree from all angles. During the blossom season, many Parisians come to marvel at its beautiful white flower bouquets. As explained on the garden’s website (in French), it’s difficult to ascertain the exact origin of this tree; it’s supposedly a ‘Village cherry tree’ (Sato-zakura), and ‘shirotae‘ means white, referring to its snow-white flowers.

This species wasn’t even on my list of the main types of Japanese cherry trees that I collected when I was traveling in Japan. However, I also learned that it’s very complex to understand how all the different species and subspecies originated, so it’s unsurprising (especially as I’m no botanist, unfortunately). Anyway, this Sato-zakura species specifically grows wide with horizontal branches. The one in the Jardin des Plantes is only 4 meters high but 15 meters wide!

Cherry Trees in Bloom at the Jardin des Plantes

But there’s not only this superstar cherry tree: other cherry trees that are equally beautiful grow in the Jardin des Plantes, and it brings so much joy and happiness to take an early morning walk in the garden in early spring to watch them bloom. I particularly like the end of the season when the flowers start to fade and create a blanket of pink petals on the ground. It’s like a fairy tale!

Cherry tree in bloom at the Jardin des Plantes, 2022

Other flowers like tulips and daffodils also bloom around the same period at the Jardin des Plantes, which makes it even more magical. Early spring is one of the most interesting periods in gardens because that’s when you can really see the transition between winter and spring, with some of the trees not even awakened yet and precursors such as daffodils showing the way to warmer periods. That’s what I experienced in Keukenhof some years back, for instance. It’s also a moment when the gardens are less crowded, so to some extent, more pleasant to visit.

Where to see the cherry blossom in Paris

Other places to see cherry trees bloom in the center of Paris include around Notre-Dame de Paris and Square René Viviani on the banks of the Seine River, as well as the Jardin des Tuileries.

Cherry trees near Notre-Dame-de-Paris
Cherry trees near Notre-Dame-de-Paris, 2010

Outside of Paris, the famous Parc de Sceaux draws crowds of Parisians nowadays to celebrate hanami and picnic under the cherry trees, reminiscent of Japan. Although I prefer less crowded places, I must admit it’s a sight to behold!

Hanami at the Parc de Sceaux
Hanami at the Parc de Sceaux, 2010

You can also find cherry trees and experience a genuine Japanese atmosphere at the Albert Kahn Museum garden. I highly recommend visiting this garden, not only for the cherry blossom but especially outside of the cherry blossom season, particularly if you enjoy the atmosphere of Japanese gardens. This philanthropist created a wonderful, otherworldly garden in the heart of Boulogne in the 19th century, serving as a haven of peace and a botanical treasure trove.

But above all, my favorite way to experience cherry blossom and spring bloom in Paris and its surroundings is to wander around and stumble upon wonderful sights just around the corner. This regularly happens in the 15th and 13th arrondissements where I live. While there may not be specific gardens or places to celebrate hanami, the beauty of the trees brings peace and charm to a Parisian street corner. To me, this is the best way to enjoy hanami: allow yourself to be surprised by the blossom where you least expect it.

One of my favourite blogger, Tokyo Banhbao, whose work I admire dearly, once made a map of Where to watch the cherry trees bloom in Paris thanks to her community. It dates back to 2019 but I think it is still up-to-date, unless some of the trees disappeared (that’s the magic of blossoming trees: it comes round each year!). And this said, I wish you all a happy sakura season in Paris!

Sakura flower captured in Parc de Sceaux
Sakura flower captured in Parc de Sceaux

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