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7 Paris Parks/Gardens to Fit any Personality or Mood

July 17, 2009

The multitude of parks and gardens in Paris are some of my favorite places to visit in the city.  With 35 of these, it may seem odd I would argue they are all distinct and even more so that which park or garden you chose to regular says a lot about your personality or present state of mind.  But yes, I am going to inject a little psychology into the Paris park and garden scene.  Hopefully this assessment will aid visitors to the “City of Lights”, give locals a good laugh, and provide all readers a unique insight into Parisian outdoor spaces. 

Below I discuss 7 parks and gardens: Parc Andre Citroen, Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Parc du Champ du Mars, Jardin des Halles, Jardin du Luxembourg, Parc Monsouris, and Jardin des Plantes.

1. Parc Andre Citroen: aka “The Family Guy/Gal”

Parc André Citroën

This park is located in Paris’s 14eme arrondissement (or neighborhood).  What is likely most striking about this outdoor space is the sleek modernity of the architecture juxtaposed with several children’s play areas, a large greenhouse, and hot air balloon rides.  This park I would say is for the young at heart or simply those with children as it’s playgrounds, open spaces, and plethora of children are best suited for families.  The lack of shady and secluded seating areas combined with a fair amount of noise and action do not make it the ideal spot for one hoping to quietly read a book or take a romantic stroll.  However if you are looking for a modern twist on the traditional Paris park, especially for the children, go for it!

 2. Parc des Buttes Chaumont: aka “The Adventurer”

This expansive space in the 19th is without a doubt for the adventurer, the explorer, or someone looking for an outdoor haven within the city.  Key characteristics of this park are a 100ft waterfall, cliff top folly replicating the Temple de Sibylle near Rome, and suspension bridge allowing passage over the park’s large pond.  Entering the park you will find many forked paths that wind up and down the steep hills (giving the park its name of “butte”).  The hills provide great views of the city, including much of Montmartre, and many visitors choose to lay here tanning, reading, and basking in relaxation.  The varied nooks and crannies of this park make it a true adventure to explore and on sunny afternoons one can observe instructors giving boxing lessons, families picnicking, and artists sketching in these hidden spots.  Who knew that Paris could offer the kind of outdoor adventure that includes hidden grottoes, Roman ruins, 100ft waterfalls, and the seclusion of a hilltop?

3. Parc du Champ du Mars: aka “The Romantic”

Paris 618 The Champ du Mars, surrounding Paris’s most famous icon: the Eiffel Tower, is truly for the romantic.  As most of us grow up as little girls (or guys) the Eiffel Tower is what is quintessentially Paris, and this doesn’t change in adulthood.  We have kitschy posters, bath towels, stationary, jewelry all dedicated to this most charming of all symbols.  The Champ du Mars, because of its situation around the Eiffel Tower, general ambiance, and many visitors, makes it the home of the Paris romantic.  Now this term doesn’t necessarily apply solely to the picnicking honeymooners, screaming study abroad kids, or the solo American traveler reading on the park bench, the magic of this park envelops the Parisians themselves.  Although I’ve heard many a Parisian describe the Eiffel Tower as gaudy, kitsch, and a horror, some still can’t seem to escape (possibly begrudgingly) the coaxing of the  Champ du Mars.  Though for some it represents all that is wrong with Paris, namely the “ugly American tourists”, many hang around the gardens and always glow with pride as the doting Americans explain how much they admire their city.  So, while some may dismiss this park as touristy and cliché, only worthy of a single obligatory visit, for me the Champ du Mars represents the idealized Paris of my childhood and romances me every time, even when my disdain for the city is almost unbearable.

4. Jardin des Halles: aka “The Chic Bohemian”Richter 560

 Situated between the Centre Pompidou and the Louvre the Jardin des Halles serves as the blending of both worlds.  The elegant Paris of the 1st and the bohemian culture of the 4th (known as Le Marais).  The interesting thing about the Jardin des Halles is it really isn’t a garden at all.  Instead it consists of latticed arches lining the walkways, the glorious St. Eustache Cathedral, and an underground shopping mall?  What is best about this area isn’t the “garden” but the character of the nearby restos and their patrons.  Closer to the Centre Pompidou are many cheap and quality restaurants and this is also one of the gay centers of the city.  Closer to the Louvre are the more expensive shops of Rue de Rivoli.  Towards the center and nearer to the garden is Rue de Coquilliere, a favorite among locals and tourists alike.  This street contains two of my personal favorites in regards to restaurants/bars Au Pied de Couchon (always a friendly place for tourists) and Num(wonderful Thai food and one of the best happy hours in Paris)!  Chic with a twist.  Enjoy you bohemian you!

5. Jardin du Luxembourg: aka “The Eclectic”

Paris 573The Jardin du Luxembourg is likely one of the most visited parks in Paris.  It is where Cosette and Marius of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserablesmeet and most all tourists place it on their to-do list.  Likewise, it is extremely popular with Parisians, who bring the children to the garden on the weekends to play with the sailboats in the large fountain which marks the center of the park.  There is something for everyone in this park, and I believe it may be the most versatile park on the list.  Students and those visiting solo read by the Marie de Medici Fountain, Parisian gentleman play boules, couples stroll the gardens, children ride the donkeys up and down the gravel paths, and the athletically inclined play basketball or tennis.  This may seem to be a broad description, but this eclectic park represents the living Paris with all of its families, couples, children, tourists, and even the occasional philosopher lurking in the gardens.

6. Parc Monsouris: aka “The Co-ed”

Located in the 14th near the Cite Internationale Universitaire de Paris, Parc Monsouris, offers a relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for the youthful academic.  The park caters to a wide variety of people, most all inhabitants of the 14thor those somehow associated with the university.  You will find college students having lunch on the benches, professors cutting through the pathways on their way to class, and families feeding the pond’s resident ducks.  This may be one of the most “low-key” parks in Paris.  As opposed to feeling the need to hike up and down the hills of Buttes au Chaumont or play basketball in the Jardin du Luxembourg, most visitors enjoy finding a shaded bench and staying there.  In your new-found lackadaisical state you can lean back and enjoy a book, chat with friends, or simply watch the passersby.  Like a college student you will find this is one of the best parks to just “hang”!

7. Jardin des Plantes: aka “The Kid at Heart”

The Jardin des Plantes is in a quieter part of the 5th and contains so many attractions it could be considered a small amusement park in the United States.  However, the garden is likely most famous for its menagerie, which was built in the late-eighteenth-century to house the exotic animals previously kept at Versailles.  Additionally, there are several natural history museums within the gardens gates including: The Evolution Gallery, Paleontology Museum, Mineralogy Museum, and Entomology Museum.  Extensive botanical gardens stretch throughout the park, and this is also the location of Paris’s Botanical School.  Wonders such as an outdoor labyrinth, Mexican Hothouse, and the new-born animals that lay just off the linear paths of the extensive gardens make this the ideal place for children and adults alike to explore.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. pariskarin permalink
    September 29, 2009 4:35 am

    Oh niiiice!! This is a wonderful post… I love how you associated the parks with “personality types.” After 15 months, I have *not* yet been to the Parc Andre Citroen, the Jardin des Halles, and the Parc Monsouris. I shall add them to my list! Well, I was at the mall at the Jardin des Halles about a year ago and think I remember a park, lol, but I was so green and new to Paris that I honestly was still in a state of overwhelm and don’t remember much about the experience.

    *off to check out some more of your categories and posts*

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