The superlatives for Paris are as familiar as it’s biggest tourist attractions, from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe, from the palace of Versailles to the church of Notre Dame. Look a little past the popular tourist attractions, however, and you’ll find a calm and collected city rife with parklands and greenery perfect for a relaxing afternoon out in the sun. There are, of course, the huge and famous parks—the Tuileries and the Luxembourg—but there are also the quiet parks whose charm and beauty are worth celebrating France for on their own. Here are some you must include in your next French sojourn.
Les Jardins Flottants
When you think of parks, you expect them to be landlocked given their nature as patches of land and greenery. Such is not the case for Les Jardins Flottants, a series of water-bound parks floating in the middle of the Seine. Each of its five islets is covered in foliage, from water-based plants to verdant trees. The islets are accessible by a series of footbridges near the Ponte D’Alma.
Albert Kahn Musée & Jardins
The quiet Albert Kahn Musée & Jardins is a miniature globe-trotting adventure in and of itself. This 10-acre garden tucked away amid the suburbs of Boulogne-Billancourt is broken up into different sections, each one fashioned after gardens from all over the world. Everything from English and French stylistics to the Zen fixings of Japan are all on display here.
Arènes de Lutèce
More paved area than park, the Arènes de Lutèce are intrinsically tied to the cities’ history. Dating back to the Gallo-Roman era when France was still known as Lutèce, these stone arenas are now a sitting area for the people of Paris, insulated from the noise of the city by a wall of shrubbery and garden. The Arènes de Lutèce makes for a great sunny respite in the late afternoon.
The planters and pathways of Saints-Gilles-Frand-Veneur have seemingly slipped soundlessly out of the past and into the modern age. It’s a secret place, hidden from the main road behind the buildings of the 3rd District. Find your way inside and you’ll arrive at a small green space carpeted in flowers and bordered by awnings overgrown with climbing roses. Saints-Gilles-Frand-Veneur is a fittingly intimate location for Paris, the city of romance.
Coulée verte René-Dumont
Where once ran trains between the Bastille and Varenne-Saint-Maur now stands Coulée Verte. It’s a lengthy, winding park at 4.5km long, running through the 12th arrondissement. Much of the pathway is suspended in the air, and flowering plants of all sorts tumble out of the surrounding planters to form dazzling green tunnels that cut through the city.
With all there is to see and do in Paris, things can get pretty busy walking around the city of love and romance. Duck out of the crowds at the height of the afternoon and enjoy a nice repose, maybe even some wine and a picnic, as you rest on cool grass beneath the trees of Paris’ hidden parks.