3 parks Parisians love and you will too

Parisians love their parks, where they can escape hectic city life. Parks in the city vary from tiny neighborhood parks to huge, forested areas. Some feature just big, plain, grass fields to lay or play on and others real gardens with all the plants and ponds.

We put together a list of 5 different parks where you can spend a day relaxing after walking the boulevards and exploring the sights.

Bois de Boulogne – forest in a metropolis

Sunset in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris  Photo: Alexis D Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

Sunset in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris Photo: Alexis D Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

Bois de Boulogne is a large, forrested area on the western outskirts of Paris, just outside the Peripherique –highway around the inner city. If you look towards the city and Arc de Triomphe from La Defense, Bois de Boulogne will be right there on your right hand side.

Bois de Boulogne is like another reality inside hectic metropolis: forrest, lakes, paths for hikers and bikers, gardens and even venues for horse rides and tennis. And it doesn´t end there: Bois de Boulogne has also a zoo and amusement park.

A baby rabbit in the Bois de Boulogne  Photo: Peter Rowley  Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

A baby rabbit in the Bois de Boulogne Photo: Peter Rowley Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

Recorded history of the area began in the 6th century when the king Dagobert used to hunt bears, wild boar and other game in the area. Later the forrest has seen several monastic communities, battles in the hundred year war, thieves and robbers seeking shelter, British and Russian troops surrounding Napoleon´s Paris and many things more.

Later Napoleon III, the emperor of France, decided to build a large, public park in the area. Planning and construction of the park was not an easy task. Land was dug, lakes and ponds were made by directing water from the river and digging a huge well. Vegetation and trees were planted and massive irrigation system was installed to support them. Even though the area has a long history as a green oasis next to growing metropolis, what you see there today is largely built by man.

What you can do there

Activities you can do in Bois de Boulogne include for example following:

Biking & jogging: The park has a network of paved paths where you can ride your bike or run.
Rowing: Lakes in the park offer possibilities to jump on a little row boat.
Picnics: You can enjoy your picnic freely. But barbequing is not allowed due to fire hazard.
Visit a zoo: Jardin d´Acclimatation has a botanical garden and zoo with animals from all over the globe.

How to get there: Take the line 2 subway to Porte Dauphine or line 1 to Porte Maillot or RER C to Avenue Foch. All these stations are just across couple of streets from the park.

 

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Champ de Mars – Nation´s prime park

People enjoying the sun in Champ de Mars park. Photo: Jean-Pierre Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

People enjoying the sun in Champ de Mars park. Photo: Jean-Pierre Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

Champ de Mars is one of the most visible and available parks in the city of Paris. It´s the long park right behind the Eiffel Tower that you must have seen, if you have seen photos of the tower. Champ de Mars extends few thousand yards southeast from Eifel Tower, towards the École Militaire, the French military school.

Part of Champ de Mars park seen from the Eiffel Tower Photo: Martin Cox, Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

Part of Champ de Mars park seen from the Eiffel Tower Photo: Martin Cox, Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

The area where Champ de Mars parks now resides was originally planned to be used for military drills and practice – by the troops trained in the Ècole Militaire. However, recreational use was later favored over military exercise and the park got it´s current form.

What you can do there:

Picnic: The large grass areas are perfect for a picnic and Parisians sure know how to enjoy that possibility.
Go to the playground with children: Park features a good playground for children.
Just relax: Take your time and relax among the grass, plants & flowers that you can find especially closer to the Eiffel Tower.

How to get there:

Take subway line 8 to École Militaire (right next to the military school and around the corner from the park.) or RER C to Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel
 

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Buttes-Chaumont park – Paris´ well-kept secret

Buttes Chaumont park and it´s man made cliffs  Photo: Ahmad Tarek Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

Buttes Chaumont park and it´s man made cliffs Photo: Ahmad Tarek Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

Parc des Buttes Chaumont is a large public park situated in the 19th arronddissement of Paris. The park is way off from the usual tourists´ paths making it a well-kept secret that the locals enjoy. But it´s definitely worth it to see this park – because it´s quite spectacular.

Buttes Chauomont park features extensive, man made scenery that boasts for example a high waterfall, 50 meters high hills with steep cliffs, lake and even a large cave.

A bridge takes people from a hill to another in Buttes Chaumont park.  Photo: Groume Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

A bridge takes people from a hill to another in Buttes Chaumont park. Photo: Groume Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

The park hasn´t always been a fresh oasis. Before it was artificially turned into a park, there used to be a digging site where limestone was extracted for constructions in Paris and even in the United States. The area also used to have a landfill where waste from the citys sewage system was dumped.
But don´t worry – that was around the year 1790. Construction of the park started in 1864, so the place has been completely clean, with masses of old land moved, for 150 years.

Buttes Chaumont park seen from the high hills. Photo: Your Ostromentsky Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

Buttes Chaumont park seen from the high hills. Photo: Your Ostromentsky Source: Flickr, creative commons licenced

Today the Buttes Chaumont park is loved by the locals, who enjoy the unusual surroundings and quiet atmosphere in the park.

What you can do there:

Admire the artificial sceneries: grottos, a waterfall, cliffs, ponds… The clearly man made setup makes you think if it´s supposed to be a theme park of some sort.
Picnic and other park activities: This park does have plenty of green grass for regular park activities, so go ahead!
Observe real Parisians doing their thing: This park is far from the regular tourist attractions, so here you´ll see how the real Parisians live and spend their time.

How to get there:

Take the subway line 7bis to Buttes Chaumont or Botzaris
 

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