Cherry Blossom Viewing (Hanami) Near Paris

One of the items on my Travel Bucket List is to see the cherry blossoms in Japan. The custom of enjoying the cherry blossoms every year during their transient life span is so much a part of the Japanese culture that they have a word for it – “hanami” (“hana” = flowers, “mi” = to view), and ever since I took Japanese many many years ago, I’ve wanted to go. Although I still haven’t checked off hanami in Japan off my bucket list, last week, I was able to check off hanami in the Domaine de Sceaux (pronounced “so”) off my French one.

The History of Sceaux and Its Château

Sceaux is a relatively small town located about 4 miles (6.4km) south of the Paris city limits and is named one of the richest cities in France. One of the main attractions of Sceaux is the Domaine de Sceaux. It was originally built in the 17th century by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the minister of finance to King Louis XIV. (Side note: If you’d like to learn more about one of the victims of Colbert’s rise to power and his former château, click here.) Colbert enlisted the help of famous landscape architect, Andre Le Nôtre (who also designed the gardens of the aforementioned victim and Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles), to design the sprawling estate. The château building itself was confiscated and destroyed during the French Revolution, but in the 19th century, the then-owners rebuilt a smaller version of the château, which is what stands today.

Front entrance to the Château de Sceaux
Looking from the back of the château towards Le Nôtre’s gardens

Our Visit to the Parc de Sceaux

The first thing that we noticed about the Domaine de Sceaux is that it’s free! There’s a small charge to visit the Château itself, which houses a small museum, but wandering around the beautiful gardens is open to the public. The second thing that we realized upon arrival is that the park is massive! It extends over 444 acres (180 hectares) and has many different areas for strolling around, picnicking and relaxing. I really wish we had more time to explore this expansive park, but unfortunately we had an appointment in Paris to get to so we had our priorities – to see the cherry blossoms. But I hope to explore more next time!

One of the paths we took to get to the cherry blossoms. It’s hard to believe that you’re in the middle of a city here!

Hanami (Viewing the Cherry Blossoms)

As a note, this year, from April 1 to May 8, 2023, the Domaine de Sceaux holds their annual Hanami festival, which includes different tours, demonstrations and workshops. You can find more information here.

Although the cherry blossoms are the main attraction in the Domaine de Sceaux at this time of year, they’re not exactly easy to find amidst the 444 acres of this park. Domaine de Sceaux’s website has a map that you can download for free (look for Bosquet Nord or Cerisiers du Japon), or you can find it on Google Maps here. Or you can do as I did and use a combination of Google Maps and of following everyone else. Once we entered through a tunnel of Japanese lanterns, a beautiful view awaited us – 144 cherry trees fully in bloom.

I usually don’t take selfies, but I couldn’t resist among these beauties.

We really wished we had more time to enjoy these beauties by having a picnic under the cherry blossoms like many others were doing. Though given how busy our schedules are, and how hard it is to make time to get to this area, I guess I should be happy that, after many years of wanting to visit, I was finally able to see the cherry blossoms of the Domaine de Sceaux. It is a visit I won’t forget.

Until next time,


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