If Paris is a village, it’s here – and not just one, but several villages! It was not so long ago that Auteuil, a charming village to the west of Paris, was a holiday destination, a place to go for a break in the countryside. Boileau retired there to write in the shade of his linden tree. Since then, the city has grown around it, but its spirit is unchanged. Although cut through by illustrious major thoroughfares such as Avenue Mozart and Avenue de Versailles, Auteuil is epitomized by hidden gardens and discreet villas. The incredible Villa Montmorency, the exquisite Hameau Boileau, the stunning Reunion and Molitor villas and the rustic Villa Mulhouse, are all considered wonders by those in the know.
Auteuil does not reveal itself easily, it has to be earned and learned. It is an authentic district, with its own market, church, and cemetery, a neighbourhood for families who are happy to live there – sometimes for generations. A neighbourhood where Proust was born, and Arletty and Mauriac lived. A neighbourhood that has nonetheless charmed the most audacious architects: the fascinating rigors of Le Corbusier and Mallet-Stevens counter Guimard’s infinite arabesques in the colossal Castel Béranger, rue Jean de la Fontaine.
What makes it so charming? Its unselfconsciousness and freshness. The unselfconsciousness of young couples, happy to raise their children in a family-friendly village atmosphere; the freshness of being close to nature, from the private gardens of the villas to the Bois de Boulogne just a stone’s throw away. A short bike ride and you are at the Auteuil racecourse, the Roland Garros tennis stadium, and the Parc des Princes stadium. Although quiet and calm, Auteuil never really sleeps……
Auteuil is a detour where you have to learn how to lose yourself, as you would when venturing into the woods. The tangle of the streets guarantees a thousand secret surprises and contrasts with the cheerful swarming masses in Auteuil’s market and Porte Saint Cloud on the evenings when a match is being played.
Visit the charming but little known Jardin des Poètes, avenue du General Sarail, where forty-eight stones, illustrated with verses, celebrate forty-eight (great) French poets.