The public parks of Paris are famous for their expansive gardens, art and space for outdoor dining. Whether you and a loved one are seeking a romantic Parisian interlude, or you’re looking for a day of relaxation and recreation with the family, the parks of Paris have got you covered. They are also quite often steeped in intriguing history. When you’re lucky enough to be traveling to Paris, you’ll want to plan your trip to include plenty of time in the city’s world-class recreation areas. These five Paris parks offer a slice of Parisian perfection, accessible during the city’s famously mild springtime bloom or its brisk wintry chill. An excursion to one of these delightful public spaces will prove to you that, as far as parks go, Paris has the crème de la crème.
1. Jardin du Luxembourg
The second largest public park in Paris, the Jardin de Luxembourg was created in 1611. The widow of Henry IV, Marie de’ Medici, wanted to build a palace and gardens to imitate the Pitti Palace of her hometown, Florence, Italy. The gardens were designed along dramatic terraces, grottos and fountains that still stand today. Now a designated city park, the Jardin du Luxembourg is on the grounds of the Luxembourg Palace, which happens to be home to the French Senate. Over the centuries, the park has become home to a remarkable collection of statues — most of them stone homages to real people, including the French queens and other famous French women, as well as the great writers and artists of Paris. Today, the park’s large central reservoir is used by children to float and race model boats.
Jardin des Tuileries image photo credit: dalbera / Foter / CC BY.
2. Jardin des Tuileries
This park is one of the most-visited gardens in Paris due to its location between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, the two top attractions in the city. Originally a clay quarry for tiles, the Jardin des Tuileries was one of Paris’ first public parks, and since the 18th century, it has featured cafes and kiosks year round. In 1990, the park underwent a major renovation during which car traffic was prohibited, making the park exceptionally pedestrian-friendly. Like the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Jardin des Tuileries is a beautiful place to picnic and explore the grounds. The park also features the Musée de l’Orangerie, a museum that displays Claude Monet’s famous, large water lily paintings — another popular attraction.
3. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
Designed in the 1860s in classic English style, this Paris park is considered among the most quintessentially romantic spots in the city. Because it’s located away from the city center, the park has a quieter aura. Its man-made lake and waterfalls are a beautiful sight and a spot to cool down in the warmer months, or watch the ducks and swans in the cooler months. The view from the steep hills of this park offers some of the most exquisite panoramic views of the Paris skyline and attracts photographers, especially at sunrise and sunset.
4. Parc Montsouris
Built on the site of former quarries, Parc Montsouris has many distinctive English-style characteristics such as wood ramps, waterfalls and elevated viewpoints. The park is a bird watcher’s paradise and attracts over 27 species of waterfowl, including the spectacular grey heron. The park is also immersed in Parisian history: During World War I, its lawns hid several air-raid shelters. Parc Montsouris was also the site of one of the first railway lines in Paris.
5. Jardin des Plantes
Since the mid-1600s, this park in the heart of Paris has been home to a world-class botanical garden featuring flora from all regions of the world. Periodically, the Jardin des Plantes hosts international flower shows and exhibits of rare plants. The public park also features a natural history museum that’s a favorite destination for families with young children. The several gardens can take an entire day to explore, and there’s also an aquarium and a zoo on the premises. The Jardin des Plantes is more than a park — it’s a celebration of the natural world’s diversity and beauty.
About the Author: Robin Brooks is a professor of French Literature and a freelance writer. Her travel articles have appeared in several international publications. About once every two years she gets the itch and searches Expedia to find a cheap flight to Paris.