A lasting vestige of the great forest that
become royal property in the 13th century, the area adopted
the name of Boulogne after Philippe Le Bel erected a church
there in memory of the pilgrimage to Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Long reserved as a royal hunting ground, it was opened to the public by Louis XVI and in the 18th century was frequented by Libertines; the nobility constructed several chateaux there to serve as libertine meeting places.
Following the damage inflicted during the revolution and the occupation of 1814-15, Napoleon III had the area refurbished by Alphand, who constructed alleys, dug lakes and rivers, and planted 400,000 trees, predominantly oaks. He created the gardens and the hippodromes, such that the park became a promenade for socialites during the Belle Epoque.
Esplanade of the Château de Vincennes (parc
floral de paris)
(metro Château de Vincennes) (tel. 01 43 43 92 95 every day 9.30-17.00 in winter, 09.30-20.00 in summer, 19.00 in October), (home to the Paris-Jazz festival in summer)
Created for the International Flower Shows of 1969 as an exhibition site for horticultural collections, the park is home to hundreds of species of flower.
The garden has specialist areas, including a garden for dahlias (which come from the Parc de Sceaux), a garden of the four seasons, a medicinal plants garden, an orchid garden (March), a tulip garden (April) and an iris, rhododendron and azalea garden (May). In the Valley of Flowers, the landscapes painted by the impressionists are reconstituted (containing sunflowers, wheat, hollyhock, etc.) Conceived by landscape architect Daniel Collin, the scenery is made up of vales, streams and ponds. T
he pavilions and the Hall de la Pinède display specialise in the discovery of flora and fauna. For example, in pavilion n° 6 (tel 01 43 28 47 43) visitors can observe the emergence of a butterfly from a chrysalis. Contemporary statues (Calder, Giacometti) form an open air museum, while elsewhere a large play area seizes the imagination of children. Near the water room a “vertical garden” has recently been installed: composed of a felt wall covered in a variety of plants and flowers.
The Parc de Bercy, of which
the first part was opened recently, was designed by Bernard Huet
to replace the old wine warehouses of Bercy. The garden preserved
the orthogonal pattern of the original site and some of the pathways
that were used to transport barrels from barges to the warehouses
(these went out of operation in the 1970’s, when road traffic
was a redirected along the bank, cutting the path between the
river and the warehouses). Some rails that were used for transporting
barrels were also left in place, along with three storehouses,
cellars from the 19th century, and some plane and chestnut trees.
The park is divided into three parts, cohesion between the different parts being “assured by large alleys that unveil views across the entire park.” Its great lawns stretch out from the POPB (Paris Omnisports Palace – Bercy). In the centre, the ground is divided into squares specialising in French themes: one can walk among vegetable gardens, orchards, vine arbours and vineyards (which bring to mind the former activities of the area). Further on, bulbs and roses (90 different specimens), a labyrinth of yew trees (bordered by “caramel trees”) and aromatic plants all combine to charm anyone who strolls through. Each of four squares, situated at the four cardinal points, contains a kiosk dedicated to a season and a colour.
Close to Bercy-Expo, on both sides of Rue Joseph
Kessel there is a romantic “English” garden, traversed
by a canal feeding into a small lake. A building that once served
for the imposition of tax on wines has now become the Maison du
jardinage (House of Gardening), where those interested in the
subject can find ideas and advice. Situated by the Seine, the
garden is protected by an anti-noise wall planted with lime blossoms,
inspired by the wall in the Tuileries. Below is a storage area
for the reserves of the Commission of Old Paris and the Musée
Of course, there are myriad parks, gardens and woods in and around Paris where you can wander to your hearts content, such as the Jardin du Luxembourg (6th), the Jardins des Champs-Elysées (8th), the Jardins haussmanniens, le Parc Monceau (8th), the Parc Montsouris (14th), the Arènes de Lutèce (5th), the Jardin d'acclimatation (16th), the Jardin des Halles (1st), the Parc André Citroën (15th), le Parc de la Villette (19th) etc…
Make the most of your stay by visiting the museums and monuments. Not to mention around Paris, the boat trips, the bridges, the Parisian squares, the zoos and farms of Paris, the unusual spots, or the operas, where you can stroll around at your ease.
For more information: walks in Paris