Small, cozy with concealed capabilities, it is more than meets the minimalist eye. This is the Etrangeres convertible leather bag and it's namesake - Square des Missions-Étrangères (The park of the Paris Foreign Missions Society).
However small in size for a park, and rather concealed with a small entrance gate at the side children's play area, it is the largest private garden in Paris which can be visited on one day of the week.
Steps away from the bustling Le Bon Marché, it is a place to enjoy respite from the surrounding frenetic energy of the city.
We arrived by chance on what must have been a late afternoon on a Saturday, it's open day. With a bag of lunch gathered from La Grande Epicerie de Paris - and a desire to have privacy to be present with our senses awakened by new flavors - we were explorers in search of a ledge, bench or grass to rest on.
Far away from our hotel at the time, clear across town on the Boulevard de Picpus in the 12th Arrondissement, we finally found it. Venturing through a small gate and what looked like a kids park, we found our little green bench, quiet under a large tree in what we would later find out was the Square des Missions-Étrangères.
In contrast to it's 350+ year old religious history and significant artifacts on display, we experienced less influence and much of the unique opposite.
As we enjoyed our sensory lunch, we were approached by a miniature Parisienne. She was the age of fingers on one hand, but spoke with the most fluent euphonious developed French. With the inherent wisdom of nature in children, she spoke confidently kind to two infants to Paris who were very under developed in French.
Who was the adult? I don't know.
But what I did know, was what a wonderful place this is, free from the world of adulthood.
Gazing above the park at the flats above, I wondered what glorious "people watching" those heart-wealthy people experienced.
French writer, historian, politician, and diplomat François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768–1848) lived in one of the apartments above, wrote,
"As I write these last words, my window, which looks west over the gardens of the Foreign Mission, is open: it is six in the morning; I can see the pale and swollen moon; it is sinking over the spire of the Invalides, scarcely touched by the first golden glow from the East; one might say that the old world was ending, and the new beginning."
For us, it certainly was a new beginning. A new beginning of love for a city we may one day call home. For now, home away from home suits us fine.