Green (Paris Parks)

I love city parks. From the small garden nestled on the street corner to the gigantic takes-a-day-to-walk-across-it kind of park, if there is a green space somewhere in the middle of the ‘urban jungle,’ I’ll find it. Trees, flowers, fresh air, sunshine. People taking time out of their busy lives to play, stroll, read, relax. Combine all that with the fact that parks are (almost always) free to enter, and what’s not to like?

IMG_6032 9.27.27 PM 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM

Paris is full to the brim with beautiful parks. There are the famous and highly trafficked Jardin des Tuileries and Place des Voges, of course, but those are only the tip of the iceberg. While I was living there, I stumbled upon many parks in my various wanderings, and also went out of my way to seek them out, especially those off the tourists’ beaten path. For me, spending so much time in the parks was a great way to get to know the city. It seems that one can find the texture of a place -its pulse- simply by spending some time in its green spaces. (And let’s be honest – escape from my studio into the sunshine was another driving force behind my frequent park excursions as well!)

IMG_5221 10.20.46 PM 10.56.11 AM 8.24.37 PM-1 (dragged)

I made the obligatory visits to the ‘big ones’ of course. You know, the ones where -if there is grass- you are most certainly not invited to have yourself a little lounge…

IMG_6285 9.51.20 PM 10.56.07 AM

For example, the highly-landscaped, and oh-so-French Jardin des Plantes

IMG_5887 10.56.09 AM 9.03.31 PM IMG_5889 10.56.09 AM 9.03.31 PM IMG_5885 10.56.09 AM 9.03.31 PM IMG_5517 10.56.10 AM 9.20.51 PM IMG_5518 3.09.24 PM 10.56.10 AM 9.20.51 PM

… And the Jardin du Luxembourg, where stone sculptures dot the landscape and charming toy sail boats rule the fountain waters…

IMG_4998 10.56.12 AM

IMG_5006 10.56.12 AM

IMG_5007 10.56.12 AM IMG_5730 9.00.32 PM 10.56.09 AM 9.09.00 PM IMG_5039 10.56.12 AM IMG_5720 10.56.09 AM 9.09.00 PM IMG_5726 9.00.32 PM 10.56.09 AM 9.09.00 PM IMG_5030 10.56.12 AM IMG_5019 10.20.47 PM 10.56.12 AM IMG_5048 10.20.47 PM 10.56.12 AM IMG_5717 10.56.09 AM 9.09.00 PM IMG_5054 10.56.12 AM IMG_5053 10.20.46 PM 10.56.12 AM

Stray a bit from the city center, though, and you’ll find parks where the grass is free game. I visited the lovely Parc des Buttes Chaumont on the first truly warm Saturday of spring and its hills were absolutely packed with grass-lounging park lovers…

IMG_5276 10.56.11 AM 8.21.01 PM IMG_5273 10.56.11 AM 8.21.01 PM IMG_5317 10.56.11 AM 9.28.28 PM IMG_5278 10.56.11 AM 8.21.01 PM

IMG_5307 10.56.11 AM 9.28.28 PM

Le Parc des Buttes Chaumont is home to a lovely (man-made) lake with a large cliff sitting at its center. You can take a bridge over the lake to the top of this cliff where you’ll get a closer look at the stone gazebo there…

IMG_5303 10.56.11 AM 9.28.28 PM

IMG_5282 10.56.11 AM 8.21.01 PM IMG_5284 10.56.11 AM 8.21.01 PM IMG_5285 10.56.11 AM 8.21.01 PM IMG_5299 10.56.11 AM 9.28.28 PM IMG_5302 10.56.11 AM 9.28.28 PM IMG_5310 8.32.29 AM 10.56.11 AM 9.28.28 PM

The only bad thing about being in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont with all those people on that beautiful warm spring day was… well… the trash….

Yikes.

Yikes.

Head over to Parc Georges-Brassens in the 15eme arrondissement, and you can find a spot on the grass there too (with less people and less trash – hey! hey!)…

IMG_5214 10.56.11 AM 8.24.37 PM IMG_5223 10.56.11 AM 8.24.37 PM IMG_5216 10.56.11 AM 8.24.37 PM IMG_5219 10.56.11 AM 8.24.37 PM

In the fancy-schmancy 8th arrondissement, you’ll find the ‘English-style’ Parc Monceau where people (against the official rules, mind you) gather on the grass for picnics, mini-soccer games, and -if they are anything like me- sun-soaked naps…

The rotunda at the park's entrance...

The rotunda at the park’s entrance…

IMG_6261 9.51.21 PM 10.56.07 AM

IMG_6263 9.51.21 PM 10.56.07 AM

Not a bad place for a nap, if I do say so myself...

Not a bad place for a nap, if I do say so myself…

IMG_6292 9.51.20 PM 10.56.07 AM

Established by the Duke of Orléans in the late 1700’s (a cousin of King Louis XVI – yup, THAT King Louis), the park includes all kinds of -in this blogger’s opinion- silly features, like a mini-Egyptian pyramid…

IMG_6262 9.51.21 PM 10.56.07 AMpp

… and a faux Roman colonnade…

IMG_6269 9.51.21 PM 10.56.07 AM IMG_6275 9.51.21 PM 10.56.07 AM IMG_6274 9.51.21 PM 10.56.07 AM

It all makes the place feel a bit like Disney’s “It’s a Small World” ride – a bit cheesy and… what?… inauthentic? Ah well – if you can look past these little idiosyncrasies, it’s quite a lovely park.

If you’re up for a metro ride, you can visit the city’s largest public park, Bois de Vincennes, with its many lakes, small caves, and much more…

IMG_4376 IMG_4379 IMG_4382 IMG_4395 IMG_4396

I also recommend exploring the wonderful hillside Parc de Belleville, which certainly plays a big part in creating my desire to live in this lovely Paris neighborhood someday…

IMG_7719 11.33.14 PM 10.56.07 AM IMG_7714 11.33.14 PM 10.56.07 AM IMG_7721 11.33.14 PM 10.56.07 AM IMG_7729 11.33.14 PM 10.56.07 AM

There is an excellent play area here that I would have loved as a kid....

There is an excellent play area here that I would have loved as a kid….

... in fact, if there weren't kids already playing on it, I may have given it a go myself when I was there!

… in fact, if there weren’t kids already playing on it, I may have given it a go myself when I was there!

IMG_7730 11.33.14 PM 10.56.07 AM IMG_7733 11.33.14 PM 10.56.07 AM

You even get a bit of a view from the top of the hill...

You even get a bit of a view from the top of the hill… not too shabby!

If you are less into lounging and more into long walks, the Promenade Plantée is for you. A precursor to New York City’s famous High Line, the Promenade Plantée is a ‘linear’ park/path built along obsolete railway lines that run along the eastern side of the city. It’s a bit less green than other parks in this post, but it certainly is unique…

IMG_4298 7.47.14 PM IMG_4300 7.47.14 PM IMG_4310 IMG_4323

IMG_4309

IMG_4318 IMG_4340 IMG_4342

As it cuts right through the city, there’s plenty of good views of the streets and architecture along the way…

IMG_4308 IMG_4304 IMG_4333 7.47.14 PM

And although it seems… well… PERFECT for it, I’m sad to report that you have to leave your roller blades and skate boards at home, folks…

IMG_4336 7.47.14 PM

If you continue walking southeast past the Promenade’s most popular section, you eventually loose your elevated vantage point and head into lower, but greener spaces…

IMG_4349 IMG_4355 7.47.14 PM IMG_4360 7.47.14 PM

Past apartment buildings and community gardens...

You walk past apartment buildings and community gardens…

Past children's playgrounds...

…past children’s playgrounds…

... to the abrupt end near the Boulevard Périphérique (a ring road/highway that surrounds the city)...

… and eventually to the abrupt end of the Promenade near the Boulevard Périphérique (a ring road/highway that marks the center city’s edge)…

Of all the parks I visited in Paris, my most favorite are likely not on a ‘must see’ list, but they are fantastic all the same. First, in the southwestern corner of the city you’ll find the large Parc André Citroën. Several small uniquely landscaped gardens surround a large green field that is ringed by interesting modern architecture (which compliment the surrounding buildings quite nicely) and two lovely greenhouses…

IMG_8039 12.05.14 AM 10.56.06 AM IMG_8043 12.05.14 AM 10.56.06 AM IMG_8037 12.05.14 AM 10.56.06 AM IMG_8079 12.05.14 AM 10.56.05 AM IMG_8041 12.05.14 AM 10.56.06 AM IMG_8046 12.05.14 AM 10.56.06 AM

Each garden has its own unique style, and -I recently learned- is associated with a different metal, planet, day of the week, state of water, and one of the five human senses. Huh. Who knew?! Honestly, though, it didn’t matter – not knowing this little fun fact at the time of my visit didn’t dampen my enjoyment of this great park one bit…

IMG_8018 12.05.14 AM 10.56.06 AM

IMG_8016 12.05.14 AM 10.56.06 AM IMG_8027 12.05.14 AM 10.56.06 AM IMG_8022 12.05.14 AM 10.56.06 AM IMG_8051 12.05.14 AM 10.56.05 AM IMG_8055 12.05.14 AM 10.56.05 AM IMG_8057 12.05.14 AM 10.56.05 AM IMG_8058 12.05.14 AM 10.56.05 AM IMG_8060 12.05.14 AM 10.56.05 AM IMG_8064 12.05.14 AM 10.56.05 AM IMG_8067 12.05.14 AM 10.56.05 AM IMG_8073 12.05.14 AM 10.56.05 AM

Head over to the opposite side of the city, and you’ll find my other favorite Paris park in the southeast corner – Parc de Bercy. Just off the River Seine, the Parc de Bercy has got it all – large open green space, landscaped flower gardens, and beautiful ponds. What a lovely place to take a stroll or sit for a spell…

IMG_5994 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM IMG_5995 9.27.27 PM 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM IMG_6008 9.27.27 PM 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM IMG_6007 9.27.27 PM 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM IMG_6011 9.27.27 PM 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM  IMG_6035 9.27.27 PM 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM

The different sections of the park are divided by a busy road, but lucky for park-goers, these bridges keep the park environment more or less uninterrupted...

The different sections of the park are divided by a busy road, but lucky for park-goers, these bridges keep the park environment more or less uninterrupted…

IMG_6040 9.27.27 PM 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM IMG_6042 9.27.27 PM 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM IMG_6047 9.27.26 PM 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM IMG_6055 9.27.26 PM 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM IMG_6056 9.27.26 PM 10.56.08 AM 9.00.03 PM

Oh, Paris parks – how I love you!

And one last thing before I wrap up: a post on parks in Paris would be utterly incomplete if I didn’t mention the HUNDREDS of tiny little ‘parks’ that sit on the street corners of Paris’s many neighborhoods.  Usually they are not even the size of a square city block, and are so much a part of the streets’ landscape, it’s hard to think of them as proper ‘parks.’ BUT their ubiquity is clearly necessary, as they are loved and frequented by many people – especially those seeking a bit of recreation just footsteps from home. It seems just about all of these little ‘nook-and-cranny-parks,’ as I call them, have a cement ping-pong table or two for your enjoyment…

I never confirmed it, but I'm pretty sure it's BYOPAB (

I never confirmed it, but I’m pretty sure it’s BYOPAB (“Bring your own paddles and ball”)…

… and equally ubiquitous is the bocce ball court – or boules, as it’s called in France. Adorable elderly French folk (often men) can be found playing boules in these tiny ‘parks’ at just about any time of day…

IMG_1482

Oh, there are just SO MANY wonderful green places to see in Paris! And I certainly didn’t see them all when I was there. I’m already making a mental list of new parks to explore when I visit Paris again one of these days…

IMG_6278 9.51.21 PM 10.56.07 AM

Next up on the blog, we’ll head indoors to discover the many strange and wonderful things that live inside Paris’s museums and galleries… à bientôt!

2 thoughts on “Green (Paris Parks)

  1. lovely way to start my morning. thank you and btw, if you ever live in paris you can expect me to spend some significant time there with you!   love you   mom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s