Paris is home to over 400 parks and gardens, thanks in large part to a major redesign of the city carried out in the 19th century. While some, like the Tuileries and the Luxembourg Gardens, are in every travel guide, the city also boasts a host of off-the-beaten-path parks that are well worth a visit.
Jardin Albert Kahn
10-14, rue du Port, Boulogne-Billancourt
Located just outside of Paris in the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, this park is technically part of the Albert Kahn museum, which is devoted to the historic photographs and film collected by the renowned philanthropist. The gardens, which were imagined by Kahn himself, are made up of an amalgam of different styles from different countries; a decision Kahn made to highlight his belief in the importance of world peace. A wander through the space will introduce any visitor to both a modern, a 19th century Japanese garden with a reconstruction of a small Japanese village, a 19th century French-style garden, a garden in the English tradition, and a reconstruction of a forest in the style of the Vosges, where Kahn grew up.
2, rue Gazan, 75014
This public park on the southern edge of Paris tends to be frequented mainly by locals, but visitors to Paris are missing out. Parc Montsouris is one of four major parks created by Emperor Napoleon III in an effort to establish a large green space at each of the cardinal points of the city. The 15.5 hectare park is designed in the style of an English landscape garden, complete with a lake, waterfall and Guignol theater where you can see traditional puppet shows.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
1, rue de Botzaris, 75019
The fifth largest park in Paris, Buttes-Chaumont is located quite some distance from the city center, but taking the time to venture to this 19th arrondissement park is worth the effort. The park’s most famous landmark is the beautiful Temple de la Sibylle, a stone rotunda perched atop a cliff on the central Belvedere Island overlooking an artificial lake. The temple’s design was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy and affords some of the most beautiful and unique views of the city. The park also boasts a grotto as well as a waterfall. Come lunchtime, the Rosa Bonheur guinguette, located within the park itself, is a great place to grab a bite.
1 Coulée Verte René Dumont, 75012
The tracks of the former Vincennes railway are slowly being converted into green spaces, and this includes the suspended portion above the 12th arrondissement. The Promenade Plantée begins just east of the Bastille opera house and continues into the Viaduc des Arts, which is located above a line of quality arts and crafts shops. The park itself affords a beautiful wander through the city, with trees and flowers on either side of the paths, lots of benches where local office workers enjoy picnic lunches on nice days, and an unusual view of Paris from above.
Parc de la Villette
211, avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019
This sprawling park at the northeastern edge of Paris combines a 55.5 hectare outdoor space with a large concentration of cultural venues, including several concert halls and the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. There is also a wonderful science museum that is of particular interest to those traveling with children. Outdoor attractions include modern sculptures, such as a giant bicycle wheel that appears to be buried in the lawn. In summer, a series of outdoor film projections are hosted in the park.
Square du Vert Galant
15, place du Pont Neuf, 75001
Just below the impressive Pont Neuf Bridge (the oldest and the longest in the city) is a small garden dubbed the square du Vert-Galant or “square of the gallant green man.” This idiom in French refers to a man who is dynamic in spite of his age. It was the nickname of King Henri IV (whose statue overlooks the park), due to his large number of mistresses. Coincidentally, the park has since become a favorite for couples, be it for romantic strolls or picnics, with its impressive view of the Seine and the Louvre. In 2007, the park obtained the “Ecological Green Space” designation thanks to its expanse of flora and fauna.
Jardin Anne Frank
14, Impasse Berthaud, 75003
The Jardin Anne Frank is one of Paris’s newer parks. It was only completed in 2007 and is nestled in the Marais district; the historic home of the city’s Jewish community. The park, part of which was once the private garden of a 17th century mansion, is notably home to a graft of the horse chestnut tree that Anne Frank admired from her window and wrote about in her diary, noting that from her “favorite spot on the floor” of the attic where she and her family were in hiding in Amsterdam, she could see “the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver.” The garden is surrounded by a high trellis wall and can be a bit hard to find, but this only adds to its “secret garden” appeal.