Parisian European courtyard

How to Create a Parisian Courtyard (Using Ideas Straight From Paris!)

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If you’ve been searching for ways to create a serene yet beautiful outdoor space to not only sit and rest but also entertain, then a Parisian courtyard is for you. Elegant, organic, and yet understated all at the same time, these Parisian courtyard ideas (that I photographed while in Paris), will give you the perfect spot to have your morning espresso and croissant or provide you with a peaceful atmosphere to catch the afternoon sun on your very own terrace while you indulge in a good book.

1. Choose a White and Green Color Combo

Whether it’s for your wardrobe or outdoor space, a color palette makes sense for the same reasons. It ensures the overall look is cohesive and aesthetically pleasing.

If you prefer the wild look of plants and flowers, then an English cottage garden is for you. But in a Parisian courtyard, the look is much more refined and manicured.

Instead of varying heights and different varieties of flowering plants in a rainbow of colors, a French courtyard mainly focuses on two colors: green and white.

Though there is still enough variety with the type of plant to keep it interesting and not stale, a white and green color combo is the way to go because not only is it calming, but it’s sophisticated too.

And though there is certainly nothing wrong with a cottage garden (I like both), there is an air of simplicity to a manicured courtyard.

To achieve this look, come up with a list of your favorite green plants and white flowers. Green plants varying in texture and tone can still provide garden interest!

Don’t forget about different heights either. From a climbing vine to a deep rich green boxwood hedge, to white lilies for color, these are all the elements that go into creating the Parisian courtyard of your dreams.

2. Add Green Metal Bistro Chairs

From a cafe terrace to a garden space, bistro chairs are the number one way to add that Parisian touch to your outdoor retreat.

Taking notes from Jardin des Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg, and one of the most popular front door colors on the streets of Paris, opt for sage green bistro chairs. It’s an iconic Parisian color thanks to the famous gardens that have these chairs freely out for locals and visitors alike to sit down, rest, and soak up the sun.

Get the look:

3. Incorporate Iron or Copper Lanterns

One thing you’ll find in almost every courtyard, chateau, or Paris street corner is a black iron or copper lantern. Not only are they practical in providing light and security, but their structure and design add interest to the outdoors.

Plus, they will develop a gorgeous patina over time and weather the elements better than their lower-quality counterparts.

Authentic copper lanterns won’t be cheap, but they’ll add a touch of authenticity and interest that can transform your outdoor space. When going about designing and purchasing for your Parisian courtyard, do your best to purchase real, organic materials if the budget allows.

Get the look:

4. Keep Your Trees and Hedges Manicured

A Parisian courtyard is not for the faint of heart. It does require more maintenance! And though keeping things orderly is admittedly more work (not as easy as letting things run wild like in a cottage garden), you can’t deny the sense of elegance and sophistication this brings to your courtyard.

Famous gardens in Paris as well as famous streets like the Avenue des Champs-Élysées all have well-maintained trees or boxwood hedges, so keeping things neat and tidy is one of the best ways to emulate a Parisian courtyard, landscape design, or outdoor garden space.

On the topic of keeping things manicured, a manicured boxwood hedge not only defines your garden space but lends an air of sophistication to your area as well.

Get the look:

Not confident in your ability to grow a boxwood hedge? Don’t want to wait years for it to mature? Consider an artificial hedge instead! With instantaneous results, you won’t have to worry if you’re watering it too much-or too little.

5. Add a Place to Eat

Manicured gardens may come across as stuffy to some, but with a seating area to rest a spell and a dining area to well, dine, they can actually be very welcoming.

Whether you throw a small and informal yet classy garden party complete with white tablecloths or just invite a friend over to catch up over espresso or tea, complete your bistro set with a table or add a separate eating area to allow you plenty of opportunities to entertain.

Even if you don’t plan to entertain, there are no rules that you still can’t dress up your space and make it something that just you’ll enjoy!

Related: How to Live a Luxurious Life Without the Luxurious Budget

Get the look:

6. Choose Pea Gravel as Your Main Path Material

Where I’m from, many of us choose mulch as our ground material of choice and though that may make sense for the project, budget, or lifestyle, consider switching to pea gravel for an instant way to make your space look more European! After all, are there any things more quintessentially European than pea gravel outdoors?

Though it’s more expensive and time-consuming, the look is classic and can fit a variety of garden spaces. In Paris, you’ll find pea gravel at historic museums, chateaus, and public gardens. Pea gravel is seen all over the continent, so you can be sure this is a timeless choice.

Get the look:

7. Incorporate Statues, Urns, and Sculptures

Though it’s not as easy to get your hands on a life-size statue, sculptures are seen all throughout the gardens in Paris and it’s the perfect “accessory” to your courtyard.

Keeping in theme with European style, opt for a human figure, bust, fountain, or even antique-looking urns.

These will add the finishing touch of Old World to your outdoor space.

Get the look:

8. Create Privacy With a Stone Wall or Boxwood Hedge

In order for your courtyard to feel like a sacred space, there needs to be some privacy. Taking inspiration from Paris, the way to do this is with a stone wall, black iron gate, boxwood hedge, manicured trees, or a mix of all 4!

Layering not only adds additional privacy, but it creates a collected and interesting look as well.

If you don’t want to wait for things to grow, you could rely on a faux boxwood hedge to give you greenery and privacy right away.

Or you could start with a stone wall and add a few trellises on the inside to allow for gorgeous ivy grow up.

Though a stone wall won’t be easy or cheap, it’s worth splurging on as this is what’s going to truly define your courtyard. Stone walls date way back and will last for centuries, so once constructed, you won’t have to maintain them or worry about replacing them either!

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If you’re wondering how to create a Parisian courtyard or an outdoor space with European flair, then this list of 8 authentic ideas will get you started.

Got spring cleaning and outdoor revamping on your brain? If you want to make a fantastic first impression, then keep reading for 8 Front Yard Ideas To Revamp Your Space On a Budget!

how to create a Parisian courtyard
how to create a Parisian courtyard
Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.