10 Favorite Parks in Paris

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10 Favorite Parks in Paris
There are a whopping 470 parks and gardens in Paris. Here are a few favorites. Tip: Many of the larger parks offer free guided visits. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont Inaugurated in 1867, the Butte Chaumont was by turns a gypsum mine, water treatment site and horse graveyard before becoming the hilly idyll for picnickers and joggers it is today. The park’s Japanese anglo-Chinese style breaks with the geometric tradition of French gardens, offering strollers a vigorous and varied experience. The park’s hard-to-miss centerpiece, the Temple de la Sibylle, inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, rises 50 meters above the central lake, where a 32-meter waterfall adds a final flourish to this dramatic park. Show up before 11pm for a drink at the guingette-style café Rosa Bonheur. Parc de Belleville While the Parc de Belleville is a relative newcomer– it was inaugurated in 1988– the hill on which is was built has a long history as a vineyard and 19th century Mardi Gras partying ground. Today the 45,000 square-meter park offers some of the best views over the city, a novel playground designed with the help of local residents and open-air theater performances. A 250 m2 plot of vines is a nod to the area’s winemaking past. Parc de Bercy Built on the site of what was once Paris’ largest wine depot, Parc de Bercy is a delightfully varied park. Stretching from the Palais Omnisports de Paris to the Cour Saint Emilion, the park’s three sections each evoke a different set of themes (natural elements, seasons and colors). Pick your way through vegetable gardens and orchards in the Parterres; relax with a book or take a stroll in the Grande Prairie and admire Canyonaustrate, Gérard Singer’s cascading water sculpture; or find a quiet corner in the Jardin Romantique and watch the ducks dabble in the artificial marsh. A 400-plant vineyard pays tribute to the days when “joyeux Bercy” drew all of Paris to imbibe on cheap wine. The workshops and conferences offered by the Maison du Jardinage are an educational way to spend a Saturday, but fill up fast. La Petite Ceinture Built in 1852, la Petite Ceinture, a 22-kilometer-long belt of railway circling the city and one of the world’s first suburban transport systems, carried goods and passengers until 1934. Abandoned in 1993, the tracks were gradually overrun with wild grasses, and eventually became home to over 270 species of animals and plants. What to do with all that disused railway has been a topic of debate among city leaders: several sections have been transformed into biodiversity corridors open to public promenading; others have been adopted by local communities and turned into gardens, like the popular Jardins du Ruisseau in the 18th arrondissement. Abandoned train stations at Porte de Clignancourt and Saint Ouen have been renovated to house cafés and cultural centers. Promenade Plantée Stretching 5 km from Bastille to Vincennes, this elevated garden walkway was the inspiration for New York’s High Line. Built in 1986, la coulée verte, another name for the park, is an often overlooked gem, which keeps the crowds down. Bamboo forests, rose gardens and water features add variety to the straight-as-an-arrow path along the former train tracks, which is popular with joggers. The curious will have a hard time resisting a peek into the apartments that rise several stories alongside the promenade. Jardin Atlantique The Jardin Atlantique is an unlikely marine-inspired oasis perched atop the Gare Montparnasse. Built in 1994—despite the enormous technical difficulties of creating a 3.4 hectare garden above a parking garage—the Jardin Atlantique marries the geometric precision of French gardens with the lush vegetation of their English counterparts. The garden celebrates the historic connection between the Gare Montparnasse and Brittany: white, mauve and blue perennials imitate the colors of the ocean, while the 12 pillars that support the garden call to mind the skeleton of a ship. Kids will love the marine-themed playground, while the Ile des Hesperides sculpture fountain with its thermometer, rain gauge and weather-vane will amuse adults. Jardin des Plantes This former royal garden is actually many gardens in one–as well as home to the Museum of Natural History, several greenhouses and a small zoo. In 1635, the Jardin des Plantes appeared in its first incarnation as the Royal Garden of Medicinal Plants before becoming the Museum of Natural History in 1793. The 4,500 plants in the central flowerbeds are presented by family and species or arranged according to their economic or medicinal importance–all labelled, of course. A favorite is the Alpine Garden, filled with 2000 mountain plants hailing from as close as the Pyrenees and as far away as the Himalayas. But there’s more to do than petal-gaze: get lost in the labyrinth or take a ride on the Dodo Manège, a carrousel of extinct and endangered animals including the dodo, the Barbary lion and the horned turtle. Le Jardin Sauvage Saint-Vincent What happens when you let 2000 square meters of land go to seed in Montmartre? The Jardin Sauvage Saint-Vincent. This bit of abandoned land is now home to native trees and shrubs, a pond and a diverse population of wild critters. The city’s gardeners look after this biodiversity hotspot, but it’s largely left alone. Jardin Naturel Created in 1995, this garden throbbing with life shares a boundary wall with Père Lachaise cemetery. The park is composed entirely of plants indigenous to Paris and is maintained by city gardeners without pesticides and with little physical intervention. Behind the gated…

Lead photo credit : Parc des Buttes-Chaumont by Traktorminze/ Wikipedia

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Kate Robinson is a freelance writer and editor in Paris. When she’s not drinking craft beer, she can be found planning her next outdoor adventure.


  • kathy Rowe
    2019-04-12 06:32:58
    kathy Rowe
    Without visiting at least one parc in Paris during any Paris visit is to seriously understand this gorgeous city. Great list!


  • Lisa @ NatureImmerse
    2017-05-24 22:41:05
    Lisa @ NatureImmerse
    Parc Buttes Chaumont This is a beautiful park set in the heart of northeast Paris. The park is centred around an artificial lake. The steep cliffside is made from an old gypsum quarry. There is a small playground for kids, pony rides but this park is great for relaxing, watching the world go by with a delicious picnic.