Paris is known for its many elegant parks, but the city features a large number of very diverse parks. While some date back to the 17th century, many modern parks have been created in the last couple of decades. Even though Paris has a dense urban structure, the city boasts more than 400 parks.
Below a sample of interesting parks and gardens in or near the historic center of Paris, in alphabetical order.
The Bois de Boulogne is an enormous park at the western edge of Paris. The park was commissioned in 1852 by Napoleon III who wanted to create the equivalent of London’s Hyde Park. The Bois de Boulogne features several gardens, the most important being the Parc de Bagatelle, home to a beautiful rose garden.
After the completion of the Bois de Boulogne, which served the affluent western arrondissements, another large park was created in 1860, this time at the eastern edge of Paris. The Bois de Vincennes boasts a large castle – the Château de Vincennes – and a beautiful park, the Parc Floral.
Literally the Field of Mars, this was a parade ground for students of the École Militaire (military academy). At the end of the 19th century the area was used for several world exhibitions. The one structure remaining from these expositions is the Eiffel Tower, which sits at the northwestern end of the park.
This modern garden of about 3.5 hectare was built in 1994 on top of the Montparnasse railway station. It can be accessed directly from the railway station and features a playground, sports facilities and thematic gardens. The gardens are completely surrounded by high-rise buildings.
The oldest garden in Paris was created in 1626 as a royal botanical garden meant to cultivate herbs for medical purposes. It is still the country’s prime botanical garden and is even home to a botany school. The most important attraction in the Jardin des Plantes is the Natural History Museum.
The Jardin des Poètes, also referred to as the Square des Poètes, honors French poets. Strewn across the quiet garden are stones with plaques on which verses and the name of a poet are inscribed. There are also some busts of poets and at the center stands a statue of Victor Hugo, created by Auguste Rodin. The garden is connected with the adjacent Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil.
In Auteuil, at the southern edge of the Bois de Boulogne, you’ll find this pretty botanical garden with several greenhouses including a large palm house, the Palmarium. The garden was originally created in the 18th century on the order of King Louis XV. There’s also a marvelously sculpted fountain, the Triomphe de Bacchus.
Once a clay quarry for tiles (tuiles in French, hence the name), this area between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde was turned into a garden in 1664 by the celebrated landscape designer André Le Nôtre. Today it is one of Paris’s most popular green spaces, with a large pool and many statues scattered over the area.
Probably the most popular park in Paris, and justifiably so. The park is adorned with statues and features a romantic fountain, the Fontaine Médicis. People often come here to relax in chairs near the octogonal pond where children push little sailboats in the water.
The Jardin Villemin is a two hectare large park in the tenth arrondissement. The garden is located at the site of a former 19th century military hospital, of which the entrance gate is still visible. The park features a community garden, a bandstand and a beautiful fountain.
This garden is an extension of the Jardin du Luxembourg and leads towards an observatory, hence its name. The garden features a series of statues and beautiful flowerbeds, but the highlight is the magnificent Fontaine de l’Observatoire, a sculptured fountain created in 1873 by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux.
These gardens border the famous Champs-Elysées avenue. They were originally created in the 17th century by the renowned landscape designer André Le Nôtre but remodeled in the 19th century as an English garden with fountains, flowerbeds and several pavilions.
Originally the site of the Ranelagh Dance-hall which opened in 1774, the area was converted into a public garden by baron Haussmann in 1860. Three avenues cut the six hectare (15 acres) large triangular park into four parts. The park has a merry-go-round and several other attractions for children.
The Trocadero gardens were created after the World Exhibition of 1937 on the slope between the Palais de Chaillot and the Seine river. The 10ha large gardens are laid out on either side of Paris’s largest fountain, the Trocadero Fountain. The fountain is surrounded by modernist sculptures, mostly in stone.
One of the most successful modern parks in Paris, the Parc André Citroën opened in 1992. It is located in the 15th arrondissement near the Seine. The great thing about this park is its variety. The central area is a wide open green field, but other parts of the park feature modern water sculptures or dense bushes.
The Parc de Bagatelle is a large park situated in the Bois de Boulogne, to the west of Paris proper. The park was created in less than three months as a result of a bet between Queen Marie-Antoinette and the Count of Artois. The park has a delightful rose garden.
The Parc de Belleville is a 4.5 hectare large park situated on a sloping terrain in the 20th arrondissement. The park opened in 1988 as one of the first ‘modern’ parks in Paris and features a long cascading fountain and the Maison de l’air, an exposition building. From the terrace at the top you have a great panoramic view over Paris.
The Parc de Bercy opened in 1994 at a site near the Bercy Stadium, previously occupied by warehouses. The 14 ha large park consists of three gardens: the ‘grande prairie’, an open field, the beautiful ‘parterres’, home to a small vineyard and the ‘jardin romantique’, a large modern garden with a lake.
Officially known as the square Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet but better known as Parc de la Turlure, this is a small but charming park in Montmartre, located right behind the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. This site was once occupied the moulin de Turlure, one of more than 30 windmills that once stood on the Montmartre hill. The park has a beautiful pergola and a cascade fountain.
Created in the 19th century by landscape architect Adolphe Alphand, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is one of Paris’s most romantic and beautiful parks, with dramatic reliefs. There’s a 32m (105ft) high waterfall and a so-called ‘suicide bridge’ hangs 30m (100ft) over the ground.
The Parc Floral is part of the Bois de Vincennes. Even though there’s an entrance fee, this park is a favorite with families during weekends when there are often events scheduled in one of the pavilions. The park has everything from a water garden to a pine wood and is magnificent with many flowers blooming year round.
This 9ha large park in the 15th arrondissement was created in 1975 at the site of an old public slaughterhouse. The central tower in the park was the bell tower of the market hall. One of the park’s gardens is created for the blind, and has signs in braille. The park is named after the French chansonnier Georges Brassens, who lived nearby.
Parc Kellermann is a public park at the border of Paris proper, near the south edge of the 13th arrondissement. The park was created in 1937 at the site of a former glacis, which was part of a fortified wall around Paris. Notable highlights are a waterfall and a picturesque pond.
One of Paris’s famous romantic parks, created in 1778 by amateur landscape designer Louis Carmontelle. The park boasted many structures of which some survived: among the best known are a rotunda at the edge of the park, a small pyramid and a picturesque Corinthian colonnade.
This park was created at the end of the 17th century by landscape designer Adolphe Alphand in English style. The 16ha large park is cut in two by train tracks but Alphand solved the problem by embedding them in the park and lining the route with trees. The swan lake is surrounded by weeping willows and often attracts herons.
The Promenade Plantée, also known as the Coulée Verte, is the world’s first elevated park. It was planned in 1983 and opened eleven years later on the site of an abandoned elevated railway viaduct that runs through the center of Paris.
At the center of the famous Place des Vosges is this pleasant garden, during summer often crowded with tourists. In harmony with the symmetry of the surrounding buildings, there are four identical beds, each with a fountain, centered around a statue of King Louis XIII.