One thing I admire about the French is their ability to relax and take the time to smell the roses. Paris is full of small and large jardins (426 to be exact) and green space where you can go to recharge and escape the hustle and bustle of big city life. These jardins make Paris a truly livable city and are one of the things we will certainly miss from our life here. Here is a sampling of a few of my favorites.
Les Jardins du Luxembourg surround the Luxembourg Palace built for Marie de Medicis in 1615 (and which now houses the Senate). This huge park never ceases to astonish me with its abundant flowers, sprawling lawns, and gorgeous fountains. There is something for everyone here from toy boat sailing and playgrounds to chess and tennis matches, and of course, the best green reclining chairs found anywhere in Paris–perfect for kicking back, reading, and relaxing.
The Champ de Mars home to my beloved Eiffel Tower is one of my favorite places in Paris. Although it is obviously very touristy, it still feels like a local park. I love my daily walks with Taz through the broad alleyways and flowering trees. It is both a peaceful refuge and a rockin’ party and the perfect place to gather for a picnic.
The Rodin Gardens are another hidden treasure of Paris. Surrounding the house (and now museum) in which Rodin worked, they provide a calm respite from the clatter of the city and are the perfect place to appreciate his magnificent works of art. The Rodin Gardens heighten the beauty of his sculptures and fill my artistic soul.
Le Jardin du Palais Royal has a long royal and not-so-royal history, and at one time was the hotbed of prostitution and revolutionary rumblings. Enclosed by the Palais Royal courtyards and arcades, I like it because it is not an obvious garden, not a garden one notices from a distance. It is truly a quiet retreat, right in the middle of Paris.
The Bois de Boulogne, a former hunting ground of the kings of France has become the place for Parisians to relax, bike, run, boat and picnic. It is huge and includes the Parc de Bagatelle, the jardins and greenhouses of Auteuil, the Pre-Catelan jardins, and the Zoological jardins. Superman and I ride our bikes there nearly every Sunday. It also has a fabulous network of lakes, perfect for rowing and soaking up the sun.
Les Jardins de Bagatelle situated in the west part of the Bois de Boulogne, has a long and complicated history attached to the French royal family and their “favorites”. Once used as a discreet rural hideout, away from the court, it is now home to some of the most spectacular rose and iris gardens in the world.
Des Jardins des Plantes is a botanical garden located in the 5eme arrondissement between the Paris Mosque, Jussieu University, and the Seine. The National Museum of Natural History is part of this huge complex along with an impressive greenhouse and an animal menagerie.
Les Jardins Albert Kahn were created by Albert Kahn over a period of 15 years from 1895-1910. A believer in universal peace, Kahn created a complex of gardens from around the world including a Japanese garden and village, a French garden, an English garden, a Vosges forest, a blue forest of Atlas cedars and Colorado spruces, and a prairie gold forest.
Le Parc des Buttes–Chaumont located in to the northeast of the 19eme arrondissement–is the third largest park in Paris. Commissioned by Napoleon directed by Haussmann, and designed by Jean-Charles Alphand—it is full of steep hills (great for rolling), water features, and artificial cliffs and buttes…and you are allowed to sit on the grass.