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A breath of fresh air: 5 of Paris' best parks

Paris has many beautiful parks and gardens that are very inviting for a stroll or a picnic on a sunny day. So make the most of the autumn weather while it lasts, explore, and enjoy a breath of fresh air!

Here is a selection of 5 of the best.

1. Jardin des Tuileries

Probably the best known of Paris’ gardens, you’ll most likely find yourself here when you visit the Louvre, Place de la Concorde, or peruse the shops around Place Vendome. Created in 1564 by Catherine de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace, it became a public park after the French Revolution.

If you like: Sculptured formal gardens and beautiful flowers, set against the backdrop of the Louvre.

Location and metro: Central Paris (1st arrondissement); Metro: Concorde (Line 1; 12), Tuileries (Line 1), Palais Royal Musée du Louvre (Line 1).

Highlights: Taking a seat by one of the water features to enjoy the surrounds, or read a book.

Top tip: In the summer, locals gather to picnic in the grassy section of the gardens near the Louvre – the only area you are allowed on the grass! So take a sarong or picnic blanket and some nibbles, and enjoy the evening ambience.

Also within the park/garden: Numerous sculptures; a couple of cafes/kiosks for snacks and drinks; the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (built in tribute to Napoleon’s victories) which opens onto the Louvre; and works of art on display in the Musée de l'Orangerie (Orangerie Museum), home to Claude Monet’s "Water Lilies".

Time allowance: ½ – 1 hour, more if you’d like to do like the locals and take a seat by one of the water features to watch the world go by.

2. Jardin du Luxembourg

This stately park is actually the garden of the French Senate, housed in Luxembourg Palace within the grounds. The original garden dates from 1612, and was modelled on the Boboli gardens in Florence.

If you like: Sculptured formal gardens (English and French style), water features and flowers, joining the locals for a game of chess or pétanque/boules.

Location and metro: South of the Seine (6th arrondissement); Metro: Odéon (Line 4; 10), Saint-Sulpice (Line 4), Notre-Dame-des-Champs (Line 12).

Highlights: The park is a pleasant, tranquil space, so take a book, sit back, and relax while taking in the ambience of the beautiful surroundings. Also in the ideal location to enjoy the neighbouring districts of Saint-Germain-des-Prés or the Latin Quarter.

Top tip: It is forbidden to sit or walk on the perfectly manicured grass! So you can only admire it from one of the many chairs dotted around the grounds.

Also within the park/garden: An orangerie with displays of art, photography and sculptures; more than 100 statues, monuments and fountains; an orchard; a lake; tennis courts; pétanque/boules; and children’s play areas.

Time allowance: ½ – 1 hour, allow more time to linger and enjoy the surrounds.

3. Parc Monceau

This lovely smaller park has a more relaxed and local feel to it. A great place for a picnic or a jog, it’s possible to reach on foot if you’d like a reprise after visiting the Arc de Triomphe, or shopping along the Champs-Elysées.

If you like: A grassy setting with colourful flowers, more informal “natural” layout, free wi-fi, and plenty of places to sit and relax.

Location and metro: West/central (8th arrondissement); Metro: Monceau (Line 2).

Highlights: In spring the flowers are colourful and pretty.

Top tip: Take a picnic and relax on the grass.

Also within the park/garden: Architectural “follies” (features) including Corinthian pillars, a miniature pyramid, and a large lily pond; a carousel; and several sculptures of famous people – see if you can spot the composer Frédéric Chopin!

Time allowance: ½ – 1 hour to walk around, more to enjoy the setting.

4. Parc Floral de Paris

This park is one of four botanical gardens in Paris, and was originally a royal park. It has a castle (Château de Vincennes) and larger natural parklands (Bois de Vincennes) alongside it, so you can make a day of it if you’d like to linger for more time.

If you like: A selection of different plant and flower varieties, a dash of art, and a bit of authentic 'nature' thrown in….

Location and metro: Eastern outskirts of Paris in the 12th arrondissement – suburb of Vincennes; Metro: Château de Vincennes (Line 1).

Highlights: The beautiful flower gardens – take your camera if you have any interest in flowers. I visited in autumn and it was spectacular.

Top tip: Visit the Tourist Office (100m from the metro) to grab a map of Parc Floral (and the Château/Bois de Vincennes if you are also visiting these sites). Also grab something to eat from the shops along this stretch, and enjoy a lunch in the grounds of the Château or in the park.

Also within the park/garden: There is a lake; performance stage; art gallery and exhibits; playground; miniature railway; mini golf course dedicated to the (miniature!) sights of Paris; and numerous greenhouses containing various plant types, such as bonsai and ferns. There's also a restaurant and cafe.

Time allowance: Allow a minimum of an hour for the park, or at least half a day for the nearby Château or to explore Bois de Vincennes, which is absolutely huge – three times the size of New York’s Central Park!

5. Parc de la Villette

If you’re interested in modern sculpture and design, then this park is worth a visit. It was built between 1984 to 1987 in post-modernist architectural style, so provides quite a contrast to the more formal and stately gardens listed above.

If you like: Modern sculpture, a canal-side setting, and several grassy areas to sit and relax.

Location and metro: North-east (19th arrondissement); Metro: Porte de Pantin (Line 5); Porte de la Villette (Line 7), Corentin Cariou (Line 7).

Highlights: The enormous mirrored “dome”, La Géode. Great for photography! It has 6,433 polished mirrored stainless steel equilateral triangles – no, I didn't count! – and an IMAX theatre inside. Taking a break in the shade anywhere along the canal.

Top tip: Take your camera! There’s also an information office just as you emerge from the metro at Porte de la Villette. There are jazz concerts held here throughout the summer.

Also within the park/garden: Numerous cultural buildings including live performances stages, theatres (including an IMAX theatre), and museums; thirty-five architectural structures/sculptures; ten themed gardens; playgrounds.

Time allowance: 1 – 1 ½ hours if you simply want to walk around and look at the park. If you’re keen, you could walk south along Canal Saint-Martin and into the 10th arrondissement, where the locals love to sit canal-side in cafes.

* * *

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but outlines some of the varied options you have within Paris if you are looking for some fresh air and greenery.

So grab your blanket or sarong (to sit on!), book, and walking shoes and set out to explore….enjoy!



Profile photo of Sally Zeunert

Traveller, aspiring photographer, blogger, quote addict, and into all things inspirational....I've left life in Australia to follow my dream and live in Paris!My passport has been adorned with stamps from over 50 countries, but in 2013 I sold my apartment, quit my job, and returned to the destination that captured my heart the most – Paris! A chance meeting with a Parisienne girl in India the year before helped me obtain a visa for France…..and an apartment in the heart of Paris.Seeking a change in my life direction, I have spent the last year living in the City of Lights, taking photographs, learning French, and blogging about the beautiful sights.I am now contemplating my next steps….and will see what unfolds in the next instalment of my life abroad!

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