A Total Guide to Parks in Paris

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

More approachable than both the Tuileries and Jardin du Luxembourg, which can feel a little formal, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is worth making the trip for.

“Trip? What do you mean trip?” Well, it’s set high up in Belleville, so although that does mean a 30-minute walk from Gare du Nord, it also means you’re unlikely to be elbowing tourists for space. Plus it’s huge. Numerous pathways wind their way past the lakes, trees, waterfalls and rocky cliffs – yep, thanks to this man-made beauty on the site of a former quarry Paris has a few cliffs to its name.

Climb up to Temple de la Sybille (you can’t miss it) for extra special views.

Bois de Boulogne

Spread out over 865 hectares, the Bois was once the Forêt de Rouvray hunting grounds. It was landscaped in the 1860s, when artificial grottos and waterfalls were created around the Lac Inférieur.

The Jardin de Bagatelle is famous for its roses and water lilies, and contains an orangery that rings to the sound of Chopin in summer. The Jardin d’Acclimatation is a children’s amusement park, with a miniature train, farm, rollercoaster and boat rides.

Jardin du Luxembourg

This 25-hectare park is a prized family attraction. Kids come from across the city for its pony rides, ice cream stands, puppet shows, pedal karts, sandpits, swing boats and merry-go-round.

Look out for the intense games of chess that take place on the wooded side of the park – and pop by the gorgeous Institut Giacometti afterwards.

La Coulée Verte

In 1969 the steam engines on Avenue Daumesnil’s viaduct whistled their last and the train line between Bastille and Vincennes closed for ever.

Though the Bastille station was eventually replaced by today’s opera house, the viaduct was converted into glass-fronted workshops and boutiques for local artisans (the Viaduct des Arts).

The old lines became La Coulée Verte (also known as the Promenade Plantée), a 5km trail made up of elevated gardens, the Jardin de Reuilly and tree-lined cycling paths.

Jardin des Tuileries

Between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, the alleyways of these gardens have been a chic promenade ever since they opened to the public in the 16th century.

Landscape architect André Le Nôtre created this prototypical French park with terraces and a central vista running down the Grand Axe through circular and hexagonal ponds.

The gardens are also dotted with beautiful statues – including copies of ancient works like Coysevox’s winged horses, and more modern ones like Dubuffet’s Le Bel Costumé.

Parc de Belleville

Up the slopes of the Hauts de Belleville, there are views over the city from Rue Piat and Rue des Envierges, but as far as panoramas go, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better skyscape than the one that unfurls before the Parc de Belleville.

This modern but charming park was created in 1988 to bring a stretch of greenery to the park-deprived 20th, and from its slopes you can see as far as the Eiffel Tower in the west.

Parc de la Villette

Dotted with red pavilion-follies, this sprawling 35-hectare park was designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi and is a postmodern work of genius. The follies serve as glorious giant climbing frames, as well as a first-aid post, bars and a children’s art centre.

There are lawns used for a hugely successful open-air film festival in summer, plus 10 themed gardens bearing evocative names such as the Garden of Mirrors, of Mists, of Acrobatics and of Childhood Frights.

Jardin des Plantes

The city’s enchanting botanical garden contains more than 10,000 species and includes tropical greenhouses and rose, winter and Alpine gardens. Founded by Louis XIII’s doctor as the royal medicinal garden in 1626, it opened to the public in 1640.

The formal garden is like something out of Alice in Wonderland. There’s also the Ménagerie (a small zoo) and a plaque on the old laboratory which declares that Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity here in 1896.

Parc Monceau

Surrounded by grand hôtels particuliers and elegant Haussmannian apartments, Monceau is a favourite with well-dressed children and their nannies.

It was laid out in the 18th century for the Duc de Chartres in the English style, with a lake, lawns and a variety of follies: an Egyptian pyramid, Corinthian colonnade, Venetian bridge and sarcophagi.

Le Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil

These romantic glasshouses were opened in 1895 to cultivate plants for Paris’s parks and public spaces.

Today there are seasonal displays of orchids and begonias. Look out for the steamy tropical pavilion, home to palms, birds and Japanese ornamental carp.

Bois de Vincennes

This is Paris’s biggest park, created like the Bois de Boulogne in the west, when the former royal hunting forest was landscaped by Adolphe Alphand for Baron Haussmann.

There are boating lakes, a Buddhist temple, a racetrack, restaurants, a baseball field and a small farm. You’ll also find the Parc Floral – a cross between a botanical garden and an amusement park, where jazz concerts are held on weekends in summer.

Parc André Citroën

This park is a fun, postmodern version of a French formal garden designed by Gilles Clément and Alain Prévost.

It comprises glasshouses, computerised fountains, waterfalls and themed gardens featuring different hued plants and even sounds. Stepping stones and water jets make it a garden for pleasure as well as philosophy.

The tethered Eutelsat balloon takes visitors up for panoramic views too.