You should visit Paris parks for all the usual reasons… relaxing open space in an urban place, things to do for kids, tranquility, beautiful gardens, trees, flowers…. But in Paris many parks entice with unusual reasons to visit too.
Consider the elevated Promenade Plantée in the 12th. With their usual savvy design sense, the Parisian parks department took over an abandoned railway viaduct running from just behind Bastille Opera out to the Bois de Vincennes and turned it into a gorgeous elevated garden, a ribbon of green, running through varied quarters.
The Promenade Plantée is planted with trees, shrubs, flowers and is a surprisingly tranquil space for a vigorous walk, a picnic, or to simply hang out and admire the flowers.
And, because you are two stories above the street level, the promenade gives delightful birds-eye views of architectural details of surrounding buildings and interesting perches above busy neighborhoods.
Photo credit: La Citta Vita on Flickr
2 – Le Viaduc Des Arts Under la Promenade Plantée
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There is a bonus too.
Under the first ten or so blocks of the arched railway viaduct (starting from Bastille), the City of Paris also created the ‘Viaduc des Arts’, renovating ateliers for fine artisans to work and sell their products, all the while paying homage to the craftsman and artisans who have historically occupied the Faubourg St. Antoine quarter.
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There are extraordinary ateliers and shops… a gilder, a fine frame-maker, fashion and jewelry designers, furniture designer, a copper-pot maker, a restorer of antique linens, a painter of porcelain and more.
The Promenade Plantée/Viaduc des Arts runs along avenue Daumesnil. Nearest metros are Bastille or Gare de Lyon.
The Marché d’Aligre is nearby to pick up a picnic.
The Viaduc des Arts shops do not open on Sunday, you can enjoy the Promenade Plantée any day.
3 – Strolling Le Palais Royal Park in Paris
Image Credit: LPLT / Wikimedia Commons
For an entirely different Paris parks experience, step off the busy rue de Rivoli into the Palais Royal in central Paris.
Built originally as the home of Cardinal Richelieu, the Palais Royal and gardens have a lively history. Today, this magnificent garden, enclosed in a perfect square of harmonious 17th century buildings is a magical space, hidden away from the bustle around the Louvre and avenue de l’Opera.
The arcades of the Palais Royal are full of stunning shops, though high-end fashion shops and galleries are crowding out wonderfully funky one-of-a-kind shops that sell antique French metal soldiers or military medals.
The central fountain is a splendid place to pull up a chair and relax awhile.
4 – Les Colonnes de Buren in the Palais Royal in Paris
When you enter the Palais Royal alongside the Comedie Francaise on the plaza where avenue de l’Opera and rue Saint Honoré meet you first come into a courtyard full of black and white striped columns of various heights.
These sculptures by Daniel Burren are beloved by kids who love to climb on them. Keep walking into the second courtyard for the lovely gardens and square with the arcades, shops and cafés.
You’ll feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland popping through a fanciful rabbit hole.