This charming little building, located in the gardens of the Trocadero, on the left as you look out over the Champ de Mars, is officially called the Group IX Office.
The public, which cares little for this administrative label, soon christened it the Pavilion of the Gardeners, which is a fitting name for this rustic little house, so pleasantly placed in the most picturesque of settings.
The setting even somewhat stifles the picture; the main façade, on the edge of a large avenue, is hidden by one of the galleries of the horticultural exhibition; on the left, a greenhouse hides the pavilion; on the right, it is hidden by a neighbouring pavilion, called the Hunting Pavilion, which is curious enough to deserve a particular description.
It is only from the Trocadero side that the Pavilion of the Gardeners can be seen.
As for approaching it from that side, it is another matter; you have to follow the capricious laces of the... You have to follow the capricious twists and turns of the little paths full of stones, which wind through the gardens; you have to cross a stream on a bridge love.
Oh! this stream! it is the prettiest detail of these gardens of Trocadero, however almost as marvellous as those of Armide.
The trickle of water falls asleep in its hollows, widens in its quiet coves, then, narrowed, gushes between green walls and over fine gravel, then falls in a tiny cascade, with an almost childish roar; and on its banks, it is a debauchery of greenery friendly to wetlands, and, in its very bed, all the aquatic flora flourishes.
Like the pressed spears of a platoon of men-at-arms, the broad leaves of the sagittaria rise up a spindly staff. Acoruses rise up as well as green swords with a golden yellow dorsal stripe. Other vegetation, less haughty, seems to rest on the surface of the water, breaking the light current that calms down around them and seems to pass underneath. These are hydrocleis, as well as hearts, the green and violet nymphaeas, of which a single indentation alters the perfect oval, with flowers in the shape of artichokes or yellow or pink or white, that one would think placed on a green plate. At the top of their slender stems, the mouths of the violet irises open as if ready to bite, while at the water's edge, discreet and cute, the delicate forget-me-nots bloom in bouquets.
And proud rushes, the kings of this people of the waters, rise in clumps or, strangely contorted, project to the right and to the left the corkscrews of the juncus spirals, in the middle of which the alisma natans really seem to swim as if nothing held them back.
And everywhere there is a swarming of these green moulds, gelatinous masses of imperceptible algae, a moss without attraction for the vulgar, but on which the scientist leans dreamily, contemplating the least organised of plants, what shall I say? the least organised of beings, for these greenish cells without form and without organ, move, live and die like animals. And, with the microscope in his hand and the anguish of the mysterious problem in his heart, the researcher wonders whether he should not see in this plasma matter, so repulsive, the first form of the humanity of the world, of the great Whole.
On the edge, carpets of heather melt into soft scales that go from white to pink and red, and, to shelter this quiet corner of artificial nature, fall languidly over the green water, the willow trees that are brothers of those loved by Amaryllis.
Crossing the wooden bridge, we come to the pavilion. It is not large, and the few climbing plants that have begun to climb its walls will soon cover it with a green cover. It is more or less cross-shaped, that is to say, the main body is flanked on the right and left by two wings. This regularity, moreover, does not exist, destroyed as it is by the difference in construction of each of the arms of the cross, and by a three-storey turret which rises to the right of the entrance.
This turret has a picturesque belvedere on the third floor and encloses the staircase to the first floor.
The right wing and the facade opposite the entrance are only open-plan with windows; but, on the other hand, the left wing opens onto the ground floor with a large veranda, the canopy of which is formed by the projection of a terrace that extends the first floor. This side is very graceful.
However, neither is the entrance, which is formed by a tiny staircase, accessed by a side staircase and covered by a picturesque canopy.
It goes without saying that the roof extends well over the entire building and that the gables, which project generously, form the most decorative part of it.
All this is made of pink cement and unbarked wood; it is difficult to imagine anything more harmonious and suitable for its purpose. It is the type of cottage on the edge of a wood, and it stands out with exquisite grace amidst clumps of flox and azalea.
With its pointed roof and red tiles, it makes lovers dream as they pass by, and more than one, on seeing it, has already specified the banal vow and said to the friend:
- That cottage and your heart.
©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition - Paul Le Jeinisel.