Britain is a nation of garden lovers and many of us enjoy spending our leisure time wandering round parks and gardens, enjoying the overall design, the trees, plants and many other features. In this blog I’ll look at Paris from a garden enthusiast’s point of view and see what’s on offer for those who want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Paris’ parks and gardens have been a source of inspiration for many artists. Parisians pride themselves in making their city’s parks and gardens places of elegance, artistic detail, and symmetry– even the romantic gardens have been carefully planned to imitate nature.
The Jardin des Tuileries, designed by André Le Nôtre in 1664, was the first public garden in Paris. This green oasis is a wonderful mix of French parterres, groves of trees, ponds and small sculptures. The gardens have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. The Musée de l’Orangerie, an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, is located in the west corner of the TuileriesGardens next to the Place de la Concorde. Here reside Monet’s famous water lily paintings, as well as many others by Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, and Renoir to name just a few.
The Luxembourg Gardens are many people’s favourite choice. Inspired by the BoboliGardens in Florence, the gardens were created upon the initiative of Queen Marie de Medici in 1612. They are split into French gardens and English gardens and are arguably Paris’ most popular places to seek fresh air and sun, stroll, and play. There is also an orchard containing old varieties of apples and greenhouses with a collection of breathtaking orchids and a rose garden.
We mustn’t forget the Bois de Vincennes, a sprawling, English-style romantic park at eastern fringes of the city, famous for its lakes, pathways, gazebos, and picnic areas. This is the largest public park in Paris and is almost three times larger than Central Park in New York. There is also a zoo, a farm, permanent fairgrounds, and a botanical park where open-air jazz concerts are held in the summer.
A garden with a very different feel is the Jardin des Plantes, located in the Latin Quarter and the site of the Paris’ excellent Museum of Natural History. Built in 1635 as a royal botanical garden, the Revolution of 1789 transformed the garden into a public site. The park features thousands of species of plants, including tropical varieties, roses, irises, and a botanical garden. The Jardin des Plantes is an excellent choice for families looking for an educational but very enjoyable visit and its central location makes it ideal for combining with sightseeing in the city centre.
Whatever your interest or situation, there’s bound to be a park or garden to suit you in Paris.