The Jardin d’Agronomie Tropical (the Garden of Tropical Agronomy) was created in 1899 at the edge of the Bois de Vincennes by agronomists that were carrying out the experiments on the reproduction of plants like coffee, cocoa, vanilla and banana from the French colonies. During the Colonial Exhibition of Paris in 1907, five villages were installed in this exotic garden. Today, this place still houses the vestiges of the past, and you can take a pleasant walk between the tropical greenhouses, monuments, and beautiful Asian bridges, that are almost completely forgotten and hidden by vegetation. The Jardin d’Agronomie Tropical is a Paris well-kept secret. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover it!
The Jardin d’Agronomie Tropical was a French colonial test garden and a place that had housed the Colonial Exhibition of Paris in 1907. During the World War I, the garden became a hospital for the soldiers from the French colonies and then a memorial place. After the decolonization, this place was dedicated to the researches, and today is above all an amazing tropical garden where you can still see and learn about the French colonial past. Some exhibition pavilions are still there, while some of them are in ruins and closed to the public, like the old tropical greenhouses, or completely overgrown with bamboo, like the location of the former Indo-China village. But still, some of them have been renovated, and they are waiting for you to discover them.
Made out of redwood, the Chinese door is the most emblematic monument of the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropical. The door was exposed during the Colonial exhibition under the glass roof of the Grand Palais, and today it rises between the pines of the central alley of the garden. The stupa dedicated to the Cambodian and Laotian soldiers is a large stone monument erected in 1926 in memory of Cambodian and Laotian soldiers who died for France. You can access this monument via a small Khmer bridge, also called "bridge najas or naga" in reference of the four creatures that surround it and represent Khmer divinities half-men, half-serpents. Along the esplanade of Dinh, you can see and admire a small bright red temple, destroyed in a fire in 1984 and renovated in the 1990’s. This “Pagoda of Remembrance”, is a place of memory for the soldiers of Indochina. The former Indochina Pavilion of the Universal Exhibition of 1907, perfectly renovated and surrounded by palm trees, houses temporary exhibitions and CIRAD (International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development).
Photo © somanyparis.com
The only access to the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropical, a Paris well-kept secret, is from the southeast side. Take the exit at the train station Nogent-sur-Marne and then take the Avenue de la Belle-Gabrielle. In the Bois de Vincennes, you can also visit other vestiges of the French colonial past, like The Grande Pagode, a former pavilion of Cameroon designed for the Colonial exhibition converted in 1977 into a Buddhist place of worship.
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