Parks and Public Gardens of Paris

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 26-03-2012

Paris has the greatest population density of any capital city in Europe yet finds room for over 400 parks and public gardens. These include the legacies of monarchs who commissioned formal gardens, or their old hunting grounds on the city outskirts.

Modern parks in Paris occupy former industrial sites and are inspired by post-modernist architecture. Parisians and tourists alike can spend hours wandering around well-maintained parks with many flowers and trees in glorious tranquillity.

The Jardin des Tuileries stretches along the right bank of the River Seine between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. Its central location means that it is Paris’s most-visited park. The original site of the park was a clay quarry whose produce was used in tile manufacture.

The first garden here was an Italian design commissioned by Queen consort Catherine de Medici to surround the Palais de Tuileries. This was redesigned a century later in French formal style a century later on orders of the Sun King, Louis XIV.

The Palais was destroyed in 1871 during the Paris Commune. Its only remains are two museums, one of which, Musee de L’Orangerie, displays Claude Monet’s famous water-lily paintings. Today the park features several fountains, numerous pools, walkways, flower beds and sculptures. It also offers some of the best views of central Paris.

The Jardin du Luxembourg is a popular weekend space for Parisians to seek the sun and fresh air. Located next to the French Senate, the Palais du Luxembourg, it features in numerous French works of music and literature. The park was designed in the mid-17th century on the orders of Queen consort Marie de Medici with a Florentine-style palace and layout.

Nicknamed “Luco” by Parisians, it offers special amenities for children, including puppet shows, paddling pools, boating ponds and pony rides. There are apple and pear orchards in the south-west corner and shaded walks. Summer afternoons feature open-air concerts and theatre. The one disadvantage is that there is only a restricted area where you can sit on the grass.

The Bois de Boulogne is an almost English-style area of park and woodland at the western end of the city centre. It is about three times the size of London’s Hyde Park. Originally a royal hunting ground, today it features long walks amid oak, beech, linden, cedar, chestnut and cherry trees as well as lakes and waterfalls.

The northern part of the park has a children’s amusement park and menagerie called the Jardin d’Acclimatation. There are archery ranges, a hall of mirrors and pony rides. The area is very popular with cyclists and offers romantic walks during the day, but it has a seedy reputation at night time.

The Jardin de Plantes is a famous botanical garden located just next to the Austerlitz railway station. It dates from the 17th century and was a source of herbs and medicaments. Today, it houses the Museum of Natural History.

The park has a collection of trees and plants from all over the world. These displays are organised in glasshouses according to their species and their stages of evolution. There is a small menagerie that is popular with children.

The Parc Andre Citroen is a modern green jewel in the Javel area of south-west Paris. It is named after the founder of the Citroen car company and the present park’s location used to be the site of a Citroen factory. Its ultra-modern design dates from the early 1990s. There are themed gardens arranged around colour motifs, such as a black botanical garden and a white garden. You can take a hot-air balloon ride over Paris from this park.

The Champ de Mars, or Field of Mars, is a 25-hectare extent of lawns and flower beds in the middle of Paris. It stretches from the Eiffel Tower to the Military Academy. This was the site of the 1900 World Fair.

The park’s layout is best viewed from the top of the Eiffel Tower. It is popular with cyclists and roller bladers. There are open-air concerts and cinema during the summer months.

The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in north-eastern Paris is located on the site of an old gypsum quarry dating back to the Roman Empire. It was also a battleground in 1814 between Napoleon’s forces and the Tsarist Russian army. The park was redesigned in the 19th century and again later in the 1980s. Cliffs and artificial grottoes are the remains of the quarry. There are waterfalls and small hills that give a feeling of space and fresh air in the middle of a city.

The Bois de Vincennes is a woodland park at the eastern end of Paris close to the town of the same name. It used to be a hunting park and a military training zone. Today it is a popular location for walkers, joggers and bike riders. There are four lakes, a zoo and a castle that used to be a royal residence.

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