You can smell flowers long before you see them in the garden surrounding the Hotel Biron in Paris. This is the house where French sculptor Auguste Rodin lived and worked for 12 years until he died in 1917. Two years later it was turned into a museum of his artwork.
This grand house was built nearly 200 years before Rodin rented rooms on its lower floors and set up a studio. It’s here that you’ll find the Thinker, Balzac and the Burghers of Calais. But don’t look for them indoors.
Wander through the 7.3-acre park, over powdery white gravel paths, through the rose gardens. At the edge of one path a half-dozen cone shaped trees form a leafy alcove. Inside, you can walk right up to the bronze Thinker, sitting atop a white marble pillar, deep in meditation.
Rodin used acrobats, dancers and strong men instead of professional models, so the statues have natural poses, looking right at home in this park-like setting.
Stroll down the shaded lanes on either side of the garden to see students perched cross-legged on the grass by the elegant fountain, trying to capture their version of the scene into sketchpads.
Nearby, the golden dome of Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides gleams in the afternoon sun, hinting of the grand buildings of Paris that lie just beyond this peaceful niche.
These quiet gardens are perfect for reflection, picnics or sketching some of the very best in French art and architecture.