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Paris: Parks, Squares and Cemetries

Garden at Notre DameGreen places to visit in Paris

With over 400 parks and gardens, there's no doubt Paris is one of the greenest capitals in Europe, although it might not seem so when you're choking in the exhaust fumes on the Peripherique! The Jardin des Tuileries (16th C) and the Jardin du Luxembourg (17th C) are the oldest public gardens, but Napoleon III's enthusiasm for London's green spaces (he spent a long time there in exile before his recall) led to his incorporating several parks and many leafy squares into his 19th century revamp of Paris; fortunately this enthusiasm for greenery has been maintained in spite of the development pressures since.

So many gardens mean there's a tremendous variety for you to choose from, and they're all pretty easy to reach by public transport. The two biggest areas are the two "bois" (woods) on either side of Paris, the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes; next down in size come the "parcs" (parks), followed by the "jardins" (gardens) and finally the "squares" like the Square du Vert-Galant which have gardens in their centre rather than car parks (sadly, this cannot be said of squares in many other cities throughout Europe).

Some gardens are restful with secluded corners, others are devoted to recreational sports and play areas, and in the summer, their many pavilions and lawns often host jazz bands, classical recitals and music concerts of all kinds.

Here's a quick and rather arbitrary category list of some popular parks from Harriet Welty-Rochefort, who's lived in Paris for 34 years, to give you an idea:

  • Big parks (like Central Park, Hyde Park) : Bois de Boulogne (West) and Bois de Vincennes (East), 2,000 acres each, with lakes, rose gardens, cycling paths, " kiosques " where you can have a light lunch or drink,
  • Unexpected and enchanting : the Jardin Albert Kahn (in Boulogne near Paris), with a very beautiful Japanese garden and spectacular photo exhibits from the Collection Kahn (one of the largest in the world in the 1900-1920s)
  • Romantic : Parc Monceau (17e), with (fake) ruins or Parc de Bagatelle with its " folie " built for Marie Antoinette and its annual summer Chopin Festival, ...
  • Surprisingly hilly : Parc des Buttes Chaumont (19e) ; the highest park in Paris is the minuscule Parc de Belleville (19e)
  • Modern and innovative : Parc André Citroen (15e),
  • Pedagogical : Parc de Bercy (12e) or Serres d'Auteuil (16e), both with a gardening school
  • Great with children : Luxembourg gardens (7e) or Jardin d'Acclimatation (16e) with puppet shows (Guignol),
  • With used books : the Parc Georges Brassens (15e) has a big used-books fair every Saturday and Sunday
  • Open-air theatre : Jardin Shakespeare, inside the Bois de Boulogne
  • The Parc de Bercy along the banks of the Seine, opposite the new Bibliothèque Nationale, is a new creatively landscaped 26-acre garden with different "houses" devoted to exhibitions of gardening and wine. Logical - the Parc is located on the site of the former Paris wine warehouses. This is a good place to come for a stroll, a drink at one of the "chais", and perhaps a film at the enormous Ciné-Cité.
  • The Parc de la Villette, a modern park in the northeast of Paris, which houses the Conservatory of Music with the carefully appointed and very interesting Music Museum. These are but two of the edifices in this large and lively park (there is also the Science Museum).


Alphabetical list of Parks, Gardens and Cemetries of interest in Paris

Links are to the City of Paris website for the most part. Links to other general lists which cover the ones not linked in this list can be found below it.


More Parks and Gardens links:

A reference list of all the major parks and gardens in Paris with brief descriptions of each one and their nearest metro station and/or buses serving them.


Disabled Access to Parks and Gardens

Of the 436 Parisian gardens, 32 are accessible to the disabled. 15 of these are completely accessible without help:

  • Jardins du Palais Royal (by rue de Valois, rue de Montpensier or place du Palais-Royal)
  • Jardin du Puits de l'Ermite (by rue des Quatrefages)
  • Jardin du Luxembourg (all the entrances are on the level) with disabled toilets
  • Jardin de l'Intendant (entrance place Vauban) with disabled toilets at the hopital des Invalides
  • Jardins du Champ de Mars
  • Jardin des Champs-Elysees with toilets accessible in the basement of the Theatre Renaud-Barrault
  • La Coulée Verte ( Bld Charles de Gaulle Porte Brancion Malakoff)
  • Promenade plantée (by rue de Reuilly and rue Jacques Hillairet)
  • Parc Montsouris (by the 4 main doors)
  • Parc André Citroën (214 rue St Charles)
  • Parc de Bagatelle (allée de Longchamp) with equipped toilets
  • Parc Monceau (by bd de Courcelles)
  • Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (place Armand Carrel and rue Botzaris)
  • Parc de la Villette (by porte de la Villette or porte de Pantin)
  • Parc de Belleville (by rue Piat)

 

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