Have you ever thought your street in Paris could use a little more greenery? Maybe a few flower pots or a bit of ivy to cover an ugly wall? Or why not a few climbing tomato plants against a park fence? Bust out those rubber boots, urban gardening is easier than you think with the City of Paris initiative to let residents green their own neighborhood.
Want to plant your own urban”verger” (orchard)?
The City of Paris has decided to encourage its residents to participate in the greening of their own neighborhood with the initiative known as “Végétalisons Paris!” This allows anyone with a well-defined project to apply for a free planning permit – permis de végétaliser – to add a touch of green the city’s public spaces. The process itself is quite simple: fill out and submit the request form with details of what you’d like to do, and if it gets approved you’ll receive your permit within one month, valid for three years (with option to renew).
So what kinds of projects are allowed? “All ideas are welcome,” according to the Mairie’s website, but they do require you to sign a charter that promises you’ll use only native species and flowering plants attractive to bees and butterflies that promote biodiversity (recommended plants here), that you won’t use toxic pesticides, and that you will maintain your plantings so they’re tidy and “aesthetically pleasing.”
Flowers at the base of a tree in the 20th arrondissement.
Some participants have planted herbs at the base of trees, placed a few potted flowers outside their building, installed planters for tomatoes and peas, or created little “potelets fleuris,” pots of flowers attached to the poles along the sidewalks. Here is a great selection of photos from some projects around Paris. Keep in mind you’ll need to maintain and water your plantings, so start small and keep it as close to your building as possible.
A small vegetable planter with anti-pigeon netting near Place de la Bastille, 4th
If you’re going to use planters or need other supports, there’s no need to invest a lot of money. Some neighborhood associations have gotten creative with reusing recuperated wooden pallets or recycled detergent jugs. If you’re starting from scratch, planting starter kits with potting compost and seeds are also available from the Mairie on request.
For more information and inspiration there’s an excellent printed guide detailing the different options for the Permis de Végétaliserthat you can read sur place at the adorable Maison de Jardinage in Bercy Park (12th, M° Bercy, open Tues-Sun 1:30-5pm).
All of the links for this article are to French websites, but if you’re interested in learning about the many other interesting “green” initiatives by the City of Paris, you can read the English version of the COP21 Special Edition of à Paris Magazine (print version also available at the Maison du Jardinage).