PARIS PARKS AND GARDENS
With French formal gardens, English gardens, contemporary parks, family-friendly squares and woods to visit on Sundays, Paris has no lack of green spaces in which to get some fresh air and enjoy natural beauty.
Jardin du Palais-Royal – Created in 1633 at the centre of the Palais-Royal, it is a peaceful haven where the noise of the city fades into the background. Its paths are lined with four double rows of linden and red chestnut trees. Chairs are available for passers-by to sit down and relax around the central pond. Beyond the flowerbeds, you can glimpse Daniel Buren’s bold grey and white striped columns.
Jardin des Tuileries – Connecting Place de la Concorde to the Louvre, this superb open garden is the biggest one in Paris (25.5 hectares). Created in 1564 by Catherine de Médicis and renovated by Le Nôtre en 1664, it is also an open-air museum, home to sculptures by Maillol, amongst others.
Jardin des Plantes – A wonderful place for discovering biodiversity through Histoires d’Arbres, a themed trail presenting trees from around the world, brought back over the centuries by travellers who were keen botanists. The Jardin des Plantes has 11 gardens including a rose garden, alpine garden, large hothouses, maze and a vegetable garden. They make up a unique ensemble that changes with the seasons. It is also home to the Museum national d’histoire naturelle. The Galerie botanique inside the museum houses a treasure, the national herbarium – the biggest in the world. After undergoing a complete renovation, the Galerie has now reopened to the public.
Jardin du Luxembourg – This private garden, open to the public, surrounds the Palais du Luxembourg, home of the French Senate – owners of the grounds. Renovation work was carried out on the garden’s hothouses by André Le Nôtre. The garden features an orangery, hothouses, an orchard (the national conservatory of apples and pears), an apiary and beekeeping school, 106 statues including a miniature bronze version of the Statue of Liberty, and a bandstand where all kinds of concerts are frequently held.
Jardin du Champ-de-Mars and the Ecole Militaire lawns – Spreading out at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, this park offers the best view of the iconic Parisian monument. An open garden, it is accessible day and night, and is usually thronged with tourists, couples and families. The huge lawn is a highly-coveted area for picnickers, musicians and get-togethers. It is also the perfect spot from which to admire the Eiffel Tower, lit up at night.
Parc Monceau – Created in 1778 by the Duke of Chartres in the style of a romantic English garden, this “garden of illusions” dotted with follies has maintained its quirky appeal and bucolic charm. Surrounded by Haussmannian buildings and private mansions, it has large lawns for picnics and sunbathing on peaceful summer days.
Parc Montsouris – Organized around three spacious lawns separated by three bridges over a lake, this park is a favourite spot to relax for students from the nearby Cité Universitaire, who use the public lawns for sunbathing in sunny weather.
Jardin d’Acclimatation – This park on the edges of the Bois de Boulogne was inaugurated by Napoleon III at the end of the 19th century. Its numerous attractions – merry-go-rounds, play areas, a miniature farm, an aviary, a pool and a vegetable garden – are very popular with children. A good way to get there is on the shuttle from the nearby Fondation Louis Vuitton. Electric minibuses leave every 15 minutes from Place Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont – This landscaped park is one of the largest green spaces in Paris, and also one of the steepest (over 30 m): the park is built on an old stone quarry. There is a lake with a rocky island, the Ile du Belvédère, with a viewing observatory called the “Temple de la Sibylle” perched at its heights. The park’s hilly landscape conceals many surprises, like a cave with a waterfall.
Parc de Belleville – This park situated on the slopes of Belleville offers stunning views of Paris. With 1,200 trees and shrubs, lawns where you can stretch out, pergolas covered in roses, a bamboo garden, Pinot Meunier (champagne) and chardonnay vines, and a 100-m-long cascading fountain, this is a little-known corner of paradise.
Parc de Bercy – This park extends out from the Cour Saint-Émilion and stretches along the right bank of the Seine. Although its design is modern, it has several reminders of the Bercy of yore, when it was a small town revolving around the wine trade. Flower filled parterres, a large lawn, a romantic garden and a terrace with a stunning view make this a pleasant place for a stroll.
The City of Paris botanical garden – It comprises four gardens: the Parc Floral de Paris and the École du Breuil in the Bois de Vincennes, to the east, and the Parc de Bagatelle and the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil, to the west. The missions of these botanical gardens are to preserve plants threatened with extinction, study them and research potential uses for them; to promote sustainable development, and also to educate, inform and familiarize the public with the subject of botany through workshops and exhibitions. The collection, with its tropical plants, bonsai trees, and medicinal plants, constitutes a journey through evolution taking you back in time.
Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes – The Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes, known as the city’s “green lungs”, are wonderful spots for an outing. With lakes, theatres, floral parks, zoos, farms, cycle paths, fitness trails, cycling tracks and racecourses, they have plenty of facilities and activities to keep sports enthusiasts, families and casual visitors fit and happy. The Parc Zoologique de Paris in the Bois de Vincennes has recently re-opened after being entirely rebuilt and modernized. It is now innovatively structured around 5 “biozones” reconstituting the ecosystems of 5 of the world’s geographical zones.
Bois de Vincennes – Paris 12th
Bois de Boulogne – Paris 16th
Parc André-Citroën – This ultra-modern, heavily landscaped park boasts many water features including a canal and multiple fountain jets. It also features some very unusual vegetation. A large central lawn stretching as far as the Seine is an ideal spot for relaxing. Walkers can admire two gigantic hothouses with their collection of exotic and Mediterranean plants, and stroll amongst the many themed gardens. An enormous tethered balloon displays the air quality of the capital and can transport people 150 m above the ground for a 360° view of the city and the surrounding 40 km.
Parc de la Villette – Featuring colourful sculptures, vast play areas and venues staging an eclectic array of exhibitions and performances, the biggest “urban cultural park” in Paris aims to create links between the arts, culture and society. To be explored on foot, by bicycle or on rollerblades.
Parc de Passy – This gently sloping park runs all the way down from Passy hill to the banks of the Seine. It is a quiet place with few visitors, where walkers can stroll amid arches decorated with climbers, admire a fern garden and relax on the vast lawns.