As part of the worldwide Obscura Day events on Saturday May 6 I will be hosting a tour of the ghostly Jardin d'Agronomie Tropicale in the Bois de Vincennes.
The Jardin d'Agronomie Tropicale was originally the site of an experimental nursery that searched for ways to improve the cultivation of tropical plants and trees that would then be sent out for planting across the empire. The hothouses in the gardens were filled with exotic trees including coffee, cocoa, banana, and vanilla, and attempts were also made to grow these plants outside on site.
In the summer of 1907, the site was put on the map when a spectacular colonial exhibition was organized in the gardens. Based around several distinct villages representing all the corners of the French empire (Indochine, Madagascar, Congo, Sudan, Tunisia, and Morocco), it was also something akin to a human zoo, with inhabitants from these territories brought over to live in the villages and be "observed" by curious visitors for the duration of the exhibition.
Ten years later, the site served as World War I hospital before descending into ruin for decades as a secret, locked-away location. Today, it is a public garden, but ghostly traces of the past remain in its decaying structures and wild shrubbery.
Though more sedate today, the gardens are nevertheless spectacular and exotic in spring, and are wonderfully photogenic. On this special Obscura Day excursion, you will learn about the history of the site and other colonial exhibitions in Paris. We will finish the visit with a picnic, for those who wish to stay (and weather permitting!).
This event is limited to 30 adults (€5 for adults; children under 15 free).
Click here to find out more and to sign up for the tour.
Note that the meet up time for the event will be 11am at the Nogent sur Marne railway station (RER A), roughly 20 minutes from the centre of Paris.