Les Jardins et Parcs et Bois de Paris. There's a reason the city seems so airy, so open, so green. In Paris 400 parks cover almost one quarter of the land, making it the greenest city in Europe. Visit any other major city and we think you'll agree with us that it's the sheer number of Paris parks and gardens that sets the city apart. Paris jardins and parcs are found in every arrondissement, all are free to the public, and many should be on your what to see in Paris list.
Typical of the French way of doing things, Paris gardens and parks have rules. For instance, you are only allowed to sit on the grass where there are signs permitting it. (Pelouse Autorisé) In the larger Paris gardens there are gendarmes on patrol to enforce the rules!
Ever wonder what the difference is between a park (parc), a garden (jardin) and a forest or woods (bois)? It's all a matter of size. Parks are medium-size, gardens are larger, and the largest of them all are woods, like the Bois de Boulogne. The smallest are the places or squares. Not all of these have gardens, but many do, such as Place des Vosges.
The Jardin du Luxembourg is the most popular park in Paris, and for good reason!
It's a great place to tuck yourself into a chair and spend the afternoon people watching or reading a book. Bring the kids to sail boats in the fountain, ride the ponies, or play in the huge playground (there's a small fee for admittance to the playground).
Luxembourg is not just for tourists. The park is filled with Parisians relaxing in the sun and playing tennis, boules or chess. It's also the home to the Musée du Luxembourg, a charming small museum, and the Palais du Luxembourg, built for the mother of King Louis XIII, Marie de Médicis, in the early 17th century, and today the home of the French Senate.
Between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde is a 280,000 square-meter garden created by Catherine de Medicis in 1564, and opened to the public in 1667.
Filled with tree-lined promenades, fountains, and statues by famous French sculptors, it's a perfect place for a walk in the center of Paris.
• 1st Arrondissement
The largest park in the city, Parc de la Villette has plenty of open spaces and is also home to the giant geode that holds an IMAX theatre.
The park is bordered by canals, and there are pleasant tour boats that cruise the canals on a leisurely trip. Villette is also where you'll find two interesting museums — Cité de la Musique and Cité des Sciences. In the summer there's a free outdoor movie theatre.
To make it easy to locate the Paris gardens and parks on this page, we've created a handy map of these green spaces located throughout the city.
The map is live right here, but it will also open in another window when you click on the link below, so you can look at the map while you read about the parks on this page.
Just across from the Louvre is the Palais Royal.
Once home to royalty, today the garden is a peaceful place with lime trees, a central fountain and benches to relax on. The courtyard is given over to a fascinating modern art installation.
• 1st Arrondissement
One of our favorite spots in Paris, Place Dauphine is an oasis of calm in the middle of the activity of Paris.
It's located near the western end of Isle de la Cité. An ideal spot to take a break and enjoy a glass of wine at Le Bar du Caveau. You can watch boules games or the occassional art show held in the place.
• 1st Arrondissement
Visit the the oldest place, or square, in Paris and one of the prettiest.
Lined by houses dating from the era was the home of royalty and nobles, back when it was called Parc Royal, Place des Vosges is a great place to start your walking tour of the Marais.
Spend the day exploring the shops along Rue des Francs Bourgeois, stop for a Jewish pastry on Rue des Rosiers, visit the Picasso Museum
Looking for a park to run around in? Parc des Butte Chaumont has a lake, a suspension bridge and a waterfall.
Originally a limestone quarry, it's where the building blocks for many of Paris' buildings were mined. Like much of modern Paris, it was built by Baron Haussmann.
• 19th Arrondissement
The best views of the city! Filled with forest boughs, grassy patches and wildflowers, it's the type of park you don't see in the center of Paris: untamed, modern and breathtaking.
Kids will love the giant slide going all the way down the hill!
• 20th Arrondissement
Think the best parks are reserved for the central Paris arrondissements?
If so, this 37-acre park will change your mind. Paths wander through beautiful foilage, there are statues and even a pond with geese. It borders on City University.
• 14th Arrondissement
One of the best places in Paris to take the kids, Jardin des Plantes is close to the center of things in the 5th Arrondissement, bordering on the Seine.
Jardin des Plantes includes tree-lined promenades, a large zoo, and the Grand Gallery of Evolution.
• 5th Arrondissement
This tree-lined walkway follows an abandoned railway line.
Starting just behind Opera Bastille, it rises 30 feet above ground to afford a great view. Beneath its arches are shops filled with impressive arts and crafts. From Bastille walk south on Rue de Lyon, turn left on Avenue Daumesnil and you'll find stairs climbing up the the walkway.
• Larger Live Map…
With 400 parks and gardens covering a quarter of the city we've just scratched the surface. There are mini-parks virtually everywhere you look. Here are some of our other recommended parks in Paris.
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• Bridges of Paris…
• Les Places & Squares…
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• The Catacombs…
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