Sunday, September 1, 2013

Paris: Parks and Green Spaces

Parc de Bercy
We loved exploring the parks and outdoor spaces of Paris during our month-long stay.  We spent many afternoons (with pain-et-fromage picnic lunches!) wandering though the city's beautiful green spaces. We first went to those quintessential examples of formal French landscaping, the Luxembourg Gardens (where N. enjoyed sailing a boat) and the Tuileries, where we marvelled at the long straight lines of trees and gorgeous, manicured flower beds.  We also admired the rectilinear Place des Vosges and the Jardin des Plantes.  We were staying near the square René le Gall and N. liked taking pre-bedtime walks there for its nice playground and long straight paths for scooter-riding.  Another park discovery for us was Parc de Bercy, built along the Seine on the site of former wine warehouses along that were once outside the city limits.

I was surprised to learn that there are also English-style "naturalistic" parks in Paris, constructed in the later nineteenth century, including Parc des Buttes Chaumont and Parc Montsouris, with winding paths, irregular forests, summits, and little temples.  These were really lovely!

One day we took a long walk along the Canal St. Martin and N. was thrilled to run along the towpath to follow a barge as it went through several locks.  Another evening we walked along the Promenade Plantée, a former elevated train line transformed into green space (like New York's High Line).  

As much as we loved visiting museums and walking the stately boulevards of Paris, it was refreshing to spend time in the city parks which were so beautifully tended and full of people enjoying the wonderful summer weather we were graced with most of the month.

An abandoned train tunnel at Parc Montsouris
Watching the lock fill at Canal St. Martin