When asked to associate a color with the city of Paris, what springs to mind first? Perhaps gray, represented in the iconic Arc de Triomphe or the neoclassical apartments curved along Paris’s streets? Or maybe red, the hue of passion and romance; after all, Paris is known as the City of Love. What about green? It may not be the first color you’d imagine, but it’s true: Paris is full of bountiful parkland as well as its world-famous museums and eateries. Read on to see the list we’ve assembled of our ten favorite parks throughout the French capital.
1. Jardin des Tuileries
Sporting an illustrious history (it was created by Catherine de’ Medici, Queen of France), Paris’s largest and oldest garden sprawls between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. In fact, the art museum owns the parkland, not the Parisian government. Aside from the best people-watching you’ll find anywhere in Paris, the expanse offers countless activities. Browse a collection of sculptures underneath the wide open sky, attend the Fête des Tuileries, which transforms the park into a summertime fairground with games, a Ferris wheel, and other attractions, sail a scale-model boat to delight young children, and visit the Musée de l’Orangerie, which displays impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces (think Monet and Matisse) to the public.
Art aficionados will also jump for joy at the park’s unofficial landmarks. See Rodin’s classical statues (Le Baiser, Méditation, L’Ombre, Éve) and contemporary pieces (Temérament, Grande Femme II, Le Bel Costumé, Reclining Figure). Located in the 1st Arrondissement of Paris, the garden is accessible via public transport: take the Métro to the Tuileries station on the 1 line. The Jardin des Tuileries is close to the iconic Louvre in the heart of Paris. Check out our other favorite Parisian must-sees!
2. Parc Montsouris
Parc Montsouris towards the south of Paris is one of four major urban parks created by Napoleon III and government official Baron Haussmann. A popular hotspot for joggers, the parkland is home to 1400 trees, extensive lawns, and a lake across nearly 16 hectares. The overall effect is meant to be reminiscent of an English landscape garden. Children will love the playground and pony rides, but the must-see is the puppet theatre, which has enchanted families since 1930. There’s no shortage of bronze and stone sculptures here as well, like Colonne de la Paix Armée, Premier Frisson, Mort du Lion, Groupe de Baigneuses, Naufragés, Drame au Déseert, Pureté, Carries, General San Martin, and Thomas Taine. Budding meteorologists should check out the Observatoire Météorologique de Montsouris, where decades of Parisian climate records have been collected. The RER’s B line has a station (Cité Universitaire) in the center of the park for easy access to this 14th Arrondissement green space. There’s an unofficial protocol for riding the Métro, by the way; find out what it is (along with many other tips) in our guide to Parisian etiquette!
3. Parc des Buttes Chaumont
The Parc de Buttes Chaumont blends English and Chinese styles and boasts caves, grottos, and waterfalls. If these features aren’t enough to warrant a visit, it’s also the steepest park in the city–perfect for spectacular photo-ops! Climb the hills of the park for beautiful views of Montmartre and lounge on the gentle, sloped lawns after you’ve descended. Pony rides and two guignol theatres of French puppetry will keep kids entertained. Cross the 63-meter suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel (of the eponymous Tower) for access to the man-made island, where you’ll discover the beautiful Temple de la Sibylle, a miniature imitation of Temple of Vesta in the Italian town of Tivoli. This 19th Arrondissement park is close to the Buttes Chaumont Métro station (line 7bis), Laumière Métro station (line 5), and the Botzaris Métro station (line 7bis). To enjoy the Parc des Buttes Chaumont in all its seasonal glory, why not look into our furnished Parisian apartment rentals for a year-round home?
4. Bois de Boulogne
The second-largest park in Paris, the Bois de Boulogne was once a former hunting ground for the kings of France, as well as the site of the first manned, untethered flight in human history via a hot air balloon. This is the park for adventure-seekers and athletes! Within its boundaries are 28 kilometers of horse-riding trails, 15 kilometers of cycling paths, rollerblading trails, fishing in the Lac Inférieur, boat rentals, and the open-air Théâtre de Verdure. The Jardin d’Acclimatation in the northern end of the park is an amusement park with a zoo, a science museum, and the Musée en Herbe art museum for kids. The 16th Arrondissement park is closest to Porte Dauphine (line 2) or Porte d’Auteuil (line 10) on the Métro.
5. Bois de Vincennes
Surpassing the previous entry on our list in size, the Bois de Vincennes (12th Arrondissement) is Paris’s largest garden. The Paris 1900 Summer Olympics held many of its events within the park’s borders, and the Paris Colonial Expeditions of 1907 and 1931 that displayed the cultures and resources of France’s colonies took place in the Bois de Vincennes. The extensive space isn’t wasted: 17.5 kilometers of cycling paths, 19 kilometers of horseback-riding tracks, 32 kilometers of pedestrian roads, a 15-hectare zoo, six theaters, and boat rentals are all contained within the park. Don’t skip a visit to the Buddhist temple (once part of the Cameroon exhibit in the 1931 Paris Colonial Exposition), a tour of the Château de Vincennes (a royal home-turned-prison-turned-public museum), the botanical garden of Parc Floral de Paris, or the greenery of the Jardin Tropical de Paris. For easy access to the park, take the Métro to the Château de Vincennes station on the 1 line. What better way is there to experience this park’s beauty than with a stay at a Parisian bed and breakfast?
6. Jardin du Luxembourg
The brainchild of Marie de’ Medici, the Jardin du Luxembourg is home to Luxembourg Palace, a royal residence before its reinvention as the French Senate’s headquarters. Beyond the spectacular scenery, there are plenty of dazzling features. Dozens of apple varieties grow in the fabled fruit orchards, there are remote-controlled boat races, a carousel for children, opportunities to play chess, tennis or bridge, and the annual Honey Festival is held here in late September. If you have sweets on your mind, satisfy your sugar cravings at Paris’s top 10 pastry shops! The Musée du Luxembourg houses a rich variety of contemporary artworks, and lemon, pomegranate, and oleander plants line the way at L’Orangerie. The centerpiece of the entire park is the Medici Fountain, an Italian-style ornament piece. The 6th Arrondissement public space can be accessed via the 4 and 10 Métro lines (disembark at Odéon station). Once you’ve visited the Jardin du Luxembourg, let us be your guide as you explore the rest of the 6th Arrondissement!
7. Place des Vosges
Paris’s oldest planned square, Place des Vosges, is tucked away in the Le Marais district of the city and right on the border between the 3rd and 4rth Arrondissements. This early example of royal city design was once known as the Place Royale. Despite the title, its inhabitants were the wealthiest members of society, not royalty. Come and admire the surrounding brick apartments, picnic on the lawn, or play a game of chess. Literary scholars won’t want to miss the Maison de Victor Hugo, the novelist’s residence at the Place des Vosges that’s been transformed into a museum, and the Statue of Louis XIII serves as an unofficial landmark. Take the 1, 5, or 8 lines on the Métro to Bastille station to be within walking distance of this plaza. Learn more about the stylish surrounding Le Marais district with our guide!
8. Parc Monceau
The over-eight-hectare Parc Monceau stands out in a sea of Parisian gardens. The park was the site of the first silk parachute jump and forgoes the normal French common in favor of an English one with its serpentine pathways and relaxed designs. Bring a picnic, ride the carousel, or jog along the twisting trails while you visit. There’s also a distinct multicultural inspiration reflected in the Egyptian pyramid, the Roman colonnade, the Dutch windmill, the Chinese fort, and the Corinthian-style pillars that are all scattered throughout the park. Some of France’s most esteemed historical figures (either natural or honorary citizens) such as writer Guy de Maupassant, pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin, poets Édouard Pailleron and Alfred de Musset, and opera composers Ambroise Thomas and Charles Gounod are honored in statue. The Monceau Métro station on the 2 line is the closest to this 8th Arrondissement park. Our Parisian vacation rentals will put you within reach of this area as well.
9. Parc de Bercy
An unusual layout awaits patrons of the Parc de Bercy. The park combines “The Romantic Garden” (lush flowers and ponds), “The Flowerbeds” (an ode to flora), and “The Meadows” (expansive, tree-lined lawns ready-made for warm-weather lounging). Children will love the carousel, and parents will love the basic gardening classes offered to kids. Sporting events and concerts are held at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy. Tournaments like the Paris Masters have taken place and artists such as U2 have performed here. The park possesses a unique array of landmarks: the Musée des Arts Forains, an extensive collection of funfair items, the Cinémathèque Francaise, one of the world’s most preeminent film museums, and the 21 sculptures that comprise “Les Enfants du Monde,” an art installation designed to draw attention to children’s rights. This gorgeous setting along the Seine’s right bank is located in the 12th Arrondissement and is accessible via the Bercy station on the Métro, serviced by lines 6 and 14.
10. Parc de Belleville
Thanks to its location on the top of the hill of Belleville, the Parc de Belleville is the highest garden in Paris. A space to tease the senses, the parkland is home to a 100-meter-long waterfall fountain, thousands of plant varieties, 140 vines (a reminder of the area’s winemaking history), an annual flower show, and a stunning view of the city from the green’s peak. Children can run around the wooden playground while the adults battle over the ping pong tables. The Maison de l’Air rests at the summit of the Parc de Belleville to educate visitors about the dangers of air pollution. Take the 2 or 11 Métro lines to Belleville station to enter the park in the 20th Arrondissement or access three other Arrondissements in the City of Light.
What is your favorite Parisian park?