Even the most hardened city dwellers need a break from the hustle and bustle once in awhile. This is especially the case in France’s compact capital. With such little land to work with, parks are quite small as compared to other major European cities. Of course there are plenty of small squares and playgrounds, but if you really want to enjoy Paris’ parks to the fullest, you have to know where to go. Below you will find a list of the five best parks in Paris. Visit one, or all of them, and enjoy your Parisian experience even more.
Jardin des Plantes
Located in Paris’ 5th arrondissement (district), this botanical garden is truly a sight to see. Once you step inside, the cacophony of the city fades and you’re transported to a vast space full of diversity. The garden was established in 1635 as a medicinal herb garden for then-king Louis XIII. Nowadays the grounds host four galleries of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (National Museum of Natural History) including the mineralogy and paleontology museums. There are various greenhouses, each designed to accommodate plants from different regions such Central America and Australia. Find also a zoo hosting over 1,000 animals, in particular monkeys, birds, and reptiles.
This park is one of Paris’ largest and draws visitors from all corners of the city with its English-style gardens and calm atmosphere. Towering trees and quiet residences protect the park from the din of the city. Reflecting pools and waterfalls provide a serene soundtrack. What’s more, visitors are welcome to picnic and lounge on the grass, activities which are normally prohibited in Paris’ parks. There are also unique architectural features, like the 16th century rotunda at the main entrance that used to form part of toll system for people entering the city. If you’re traveling with kids, fear not! This is a merry-go-round, high flying swings, and a café serving up kid-friendly treats like hot dogs and hot chocolate.
Bois de Vincennes
Tucked away in Paris’ 12th arrondissement, the Bois de Vincennes (Vincennes Woods) is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Covering over 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres), the park feels enormous when compared to the smaller spaces in the city center. Find a man-made lake in the center of the park complete with two islands. Row boats are available for rental by the hour and allow you to explore hidden coves and get close to Tibetan Buddhist-inspired temples. One other unique feature of this park is the bird life. Ducklings, swans, and peacocks roam freely so there’s a good chance you’ll brush elbows with one (or more!) of these feathered friends.
You might be interested in these Airbnbs!
Jardin des Tuileries
Of all the parks on this list, Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden) has perhaps the best location. Located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde in the first arrondissement, this park is a popular spot for Parisians and tourists alike. Originally founded by Catherine de’Medici as part of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, the park became public after the French Revolution. It is filled with statues, including several by Rodin, manicured French gardens, and huge reflecting pools, making it the perfect place to have a seat and rest during a busy day in Paris. The Musée de l’Orangerie (The Oragnerie Museum) can also be found here. This museum is home to Monet’s masterpiece Water Lilies as well as works by Picasso and Cezanne.
Jardin du Luxembourg
This park, like Jardin des Tuileries, was also founded by a queen as part of a palace. Construction started in 1612 with orders by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France. Today the garden is owned by the French Senate, which meets in the former palace. The park is littered with statues, including the original model of the Statue of Liberty, fountains, and pools. Spend a few hours wandering around while you admire the flowers, rent a toy sailboat and try to keep it afloat, or grab a seat in one of the iconic green seats and revel in the atmosphere. If you’re with kids, head to the playground featuring a zip line and an Eiffel Tower-shaped climbing structure. There is also an old-fashioned merry-go-round with wood-carved animals.
Take a break in one of Paris' spectacular parks
While you might feel pressured to speed through all the Parisian monuments and museums, don’t forget to take a step back and relax. Visiting one of these parks will not only re-energize you, but it will also plunge you deep into the local culture and give you a better feel for the city. Most parks are open from sunrise to sunset, but double-check the schedules with the links provided as times change occasionally.
Get Trip101 in your inbox