Guest Notes for Episode 290: Best Parks In and Around Paris

Categories: Day-Trips from Paris, Family Travel, Paris

CLICK TO PLAY THIS EPISODE

Discussed in this Episode

  • [04:29] Parc Monceau
  • Les Buttes-Chaumont [15:35]
  • Parc de Bercy [22:26]
  • Bois de Boulogne and Jardin d'acclimatation [31:33]
  • Parc de Bagatelle [31:29]
  • Bois de Vincennes [31:57]
  • The Bosquets in Versailles [32:39]
  • Parc André Citroën and the hot air balloon [34:19]
  • Thank you Patrons and new video Patreon rewards [43:08]
  • If you've appeared on the podcast and would like to join the secret group email Annie! [45:13]
  • Elyse's new Patreon page [45:35]
  • Annie's personal update [46:52]
  • Update on doing a full immersion French course [47:26]
  • Update on France re-opening to visitors [48:07]
  • We're going to be over 300 episode soon after that you'll need to listen to earlier episodes on the website [50:14]

Paris Parks Outline – Laura Knott, Historical Landscape Architect

Introduction

I traveled to Paris twice to see the parks and gardens I’d learned about in landscape architecture graduate school, but never got a chance to visit. I wanted to share this with your listeners because I found that you could learn a lot about the people of Paris by visiting their parks and seeing how they spent their time off.

To organize my visit, I first made a list of all the parks and gardens I wanted to see, then plotted them on a map using GoogleMaps. Then, I created a schedule using Excel to figure out which ones I would see on which day, based on where they were, what days they were open, and what the least crowded days would be, using https://www.jaimeattendre.com/musees-monuments.
In doing my background research, I learned that there were four basic periods in which these parks and gardens were created:

17th Century (Baroque)

Vaux-le-Vicomte

• Created 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet, superintendent of finances for Louis 14th. After his grand opening party, king threw him in jail, took all his tapestries, statues, and orange trees, and commissioned the expansion of Versailles with Fouquet’s designers.
• In 1671, Madame Fouquet got the property back and lived there until selling it in 1705.
• 1875 was sold to Alfred Sommier, whose descendants live continue to own and maintain it.
• Restored by landscape architects Achille Duchêne and his father Henri 1875-1908. They were famous for creating or restoring over 6,000 formal gardens in Europe and Americas.
• Opened to the public 1968. Still privately owned. Underwent a major restoration starting in the 1970s and continuing to today.
• Today, much of original restored garden still remains, although its extents much reduced.
o This is a day-long trip involving a train and a shuttle bus from the train station to the estate, although there is parking for private cars.
o There is a nice little café at the entrance and a gift shop.
o We visited in 2018 during the drought, so the site was dusty and the grass was suffering, as were the boxwood parterres, who were also affected by insects and a fungus, well-explained by interpretive signs (in French).
o We went on a Sunday by train from Gare Montparnasse, but be prepared for standing up on the train the whole way back because of so many people returning to the city after the weekend.

References

Hawthorne, Mary. “The Geometry of Emotion: The Gardens of Henri and Achille Duchêne.” Foundation for Landscape Studies. SiteLINES: A Journal of Place, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Spring 2014), pp. 8-11.

Versailles

• Created 1661-1709 for Louis 14th, using Fouquet’s orange trees and statues. Prior to this, the
house was a hunting lodge with a formal garden that was much smaller.
• Designed by Andre Le Notre in collaboration with Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the king’s
superintendent of buildings, and Charles Le Brun, who designed many statues and fountains.
Thousands of men worked on the project shifting soil, digging out fountains and canals, and
planting parterres. Work also included creation of the Grand Trianon as Louis XIV’s personal
retreat. Early 1700s, the Orangery was added by Jules Hardouin-Mansart (King’s architect) and
park’s groves simplified.
• Petite Trianon constructed 1762-1768 as a personal retreat for Louis XV’s mistress, Madame de
Pompadour, and her successor, Madame du Barry. The grounds were designed in the French
Picturesque style with winding paths, lakes, and a garden temple.
• Louis XVI gave it to Marie Antoinette, who had Le Hameau de la Reine farm added nearby 1782-
1783. Designed after the hameau de Chantilly, a similar rustic village, it has a lake surrounded by
buildings in a variety of vernacular styles, including a mill, farmhouse, dairy, dovecote, and
associated gardens. There, Marie Antoinette would entertain friends by posing in tableaux
vivants in peasant garb with her children.
• Open to public 1792 when nationalized and people used it for various purposes, including doing
their wash in the fountains. Now operated by the French Ministry of Culture.
• 1870, a violent storm destroying most trees inspired a new replanting that started in 1883.
• After storms in 1990 and 1999, thousands of trees were lost. The garden was fully replanted,
restoring many of the bosquets abandoned by Louis XVI.
• Today:
o It is the goal of the current administration of the estate to restore it to the garden Louis
XIV would have experienced.
o This is difficult, however, because the fountains do not operate except on fee-based
special occasions. The water that is used is collected in cisterns throughout the gardens
and held in the Grand Canal and other ponds. None of the water is from the town of
Versailles.
o Day-long trip. I traveled from Paris by train—there are two train lines to Versailles. From
them, one walks to the Chateau. It’s also a treat to spend time in the town, which is
lovely, and on Saturdays has a market. Some people spend the night there to arrive at
the Chateau as early as possible. I did well by taking an early train from Paris on a
Tuesday, and stood in line for only about a half-hour. Key note: one can visit the gardens
for free any time the Chateau is open. It’s not necessary to buy a ticket and many
people come from Paris to spend the day.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardens_of_Versailles
http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover/estate/gardens
Weiss, Allen S. Mirrors of Infinity: The French Formal Garden and 17th-Century Metaphysics. Princeton
NJ: Princeton Architectural Press, 1995.

Jardin de Tuilleries

“Located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France.
Created by Catherine de’ Medici as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was eventually opened
to the public in 1667 and became a public park after the French Revolution…In 1664, Colbert, the king’s
superintendent of buildings, commissioned the landscape architect André Le Nôtre, to redesign the
entire garden.” Wikipedia. The garden was not opened to the general public until after the French
Revolution.
Did visit—very large and full of people enjoying ice cream in the shade and wandering about. I believe
there is also a Ferris wheel.

Jardin du Luxembourg

“It was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, for a new
residence she constructed, the Luxembourg Palace. The garden today is owned by the French Senate,
which meets in the Palace. It covers 23 hectares and is known for its lawns, tree-lined promenades,
flowerbeds, model sailboats on its circular basin, and picturesque Medici Fountain, built in 1620.[1] The
name Luxembourg comes from the Latin Mons Lucotitius, the name of the hill where the garden is
located.[2
Following the French Revolution, however, the leaders of the French Directory expanded the garden to
forty hectares by confiscating the land of the neighboring religious order of the Carthusian monks. The
architect Jean Chalgrin, the architect of the Arc de Triomphe, took on the task of restoring the garden.
He remade the Medici Fountain and laid out a long perspective from the palace to the observatory. He
preserved the famous pepiniere, or nursery garden of the Carthusian order, and the old vineyards, and
kept the garden in a formal French style…In 1865, during the reconstruction of Paris by Louis Napoleon,
the rue de l’Abbé de l’Épée, (now rue Auguste-Comte) was extended into the park, cutting off about
seven hectares, including a large part of the old nursery garden. The building of new streets next to the
park also required moving and rebuilding the Medici Fountain to its present location. The long basin of
the fountain was added at this time, along with the statues at the foot of the fountain.
During this reconstruction, the chief architect of parks and promenades of Paris, Gabriel Davioud, under
the leadership of Adolphe Alphand, built new ornamental gates and fences around the park, and
polychrome brick garden houses. He also transformed what remained of the old Chartreux nursery
garden, at the south end of the park, into an English garden with winding paths, and planted a fruit
garden in the southwest corner. He kept the regular geometric pattern of the paths and alleys, but did
create one diagonal alley near the Medici fountain which opened a view of the Pantheon.
The garden in the late nineteenth century contained a marionette theater, a music kiosk, greenhouses,
an apiary or bee-house; an orangerie also used for displaying sculpture and modern art (used until the
1930s); a rose garden, the fruit orchard, and about seventy works of sculpture.[5]” Wikipedia.

Jardin des Plantes

”Founded in 1626, the garden was planted by Guy de La Brosse, Louis XIII’s physician, in 1635 as a
medicinal herb garden. It was originally known as the Jardin du Roi. In 1640 it opened to the public.
After a period of decline, Jean-Baptiste Colbert took administrative control of the gardens. Dr. Guy-
Crescent Fagon was appointed in 1693, and he surrounded himself with a team of experienced
botanists, including Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, Antoine de Jussieu, Antoine Laurent de Jussieu and his
son Adrien-Henri. The holdings include 6,963 specimens of the herbarium collection of Joseph
Tournefort, donated on his death to the Jardin du Roi.[3] The Comte de Buffon became the curator in
1739 and he expanded the gardens greatly, adding a maze, the labyrinth, which remains today. In 1792
the Royal Menagerie was moved to the gardens from Versailles.” Wikipedia.
18th Century (French Picturesque)

Parc Monceau

• Created 1778-79 in the French Picturesque style by Louis Carrogis (called “Carmontelle”)
as the gardens of the estate of Duke of Chartres (Phillip D’Orleans).
o Was described by the writer of its brochure as “a quantity of curious things.”
o Subsequently remodeled in 1781 closer to a “jardin anglaise” by Scottish
designer Thomas Blaikie.
o New city wall built on its northern edge in 1787 and its iconic Doric “Pavilion de
Chartres” built at the north entrance.
o French Revolution 1789: estate taken from Duke of Chartres. He was guillotined
• 19th century: 1852-1860, estate returned to the family and they sold off portions of the
land to real estate developers, reducing the park by half, then sold the park to the City
of Paris
• Park was remodeled by Haussmann 1860-61, adding broad carriageways, curving paths,
a new Venetian bridge, and preserving the garden follies.
• Today:
o Only a few features from the original 18th century estate remain: the colonnade
(“naumachia”), the Egyptian pyramid, and assorted architectural artifacts.
o From the 19th century, its general organization and path system, a grotto, the
Chinese bridge, large shade trees, and many sculptures representing various
artists that once lived in the adjacent neighborhood.
o Very popular park right on the metro blue line at the Monceau station. In
summer, closes around 10pm. Great place for summer picnics as they allow
people on the grass now. There is a designated children’s playground.
o Watch out for the running clubs, who meet there daily after work hours to run
the path that circumambulates the park.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parc_Monceau
Disponzio, Joseph. “Parc Monceau: An Appreciation.” Foundation for Landscape Studies. SiteLINES, Vol
22, No 2, Spring 2017, 12-15.
Wiebenson, Dora. The Picturesque Garden in France (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 91-
96.

Parc de Bagatelle

• Gardens created starting 1775 around its chateau, which was built as part of a bet between its
owner, Comte d’Artois, Louis 16th’s brother, and Marie-Antoinette. She wagered that he could
not have what was essentially a hunting lodge in the Bois de Boulagne completed in three
months. He won the bet.
• Starting in 1779, the land surrounding the small formal garden laid out by the architect of the
chateau was transformed into a Picturesque garden by the Scottish landscape architect Thomas
Blaikie, who subsequently redesigned Park Monceau two years later. He designed a curving
system of pathways leading to “fabriques,” including fake ruins, an obelisk, a pagoda, primitive
huts, grottoes, and bridges, and an elaborate system of streams and waterfalls.
• The estate was sold to the City of Paris in 1905. It is now one of Paris’s five botanical gardens
and important for its roses, which are planted in the formal garden laid out north of the small
chateau.
• Today, the estate is part of the larger Bois de Bologne. The entrance is on the western edge of
Bois de Bologne and can be reached by car or a combination of metro (line 1) and a bus. There is
a small entrance fee.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Bagatelle#cite_note-7
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/hubert_roberts_decorations_for_chateau_de_bagat
elle_the_metropolitan_museum_journal_v_27_1992
19th Century: Napoleon III and Haussmann
The following parks were the result of a collaboration between Napoleon III and Baron Georges-Eugene
Haussmann in the late 19th century, between 1853 and 1870. They were part of the larger Paris public
works project, a renovation that also demolished medieval neighborhoods and constructed the broad
wide tree-shaded avenues of uniform limestone townhouses and apartment buildings that characterize
Paris today.
To build the parks, Haussmann created the Service of Promenades and Plantations, and chose Jean-
Charles Alphand, who was already working on the Bois de Boulogne, to head the department. Alphand
subsequently led the development of Bois de Vincennes, the gardens of the Champs-Elysees, the Paris
Observatory, Parc Monceau, and Parc des Buttes Chaumont. These picturesque landscapes were
designed according to Alphand’s philosopy: “When we say that a garden should preserve a natural
appearance, we don’t mean that it should be an exact copy of the nature which is around us. A garden is
a work of art [consisting of] combinations of forms, colors, and light.”

Bois de Boulogne

• For centuries prior, the site of the Bois de Boulogne was the ancient oak forest of Rouvray, and
was used as a royal hunting preserve and hosted several monastic communities. Louis 16th used
it as a hunting ground and allowed his brother to build the miniature Chateau de Bagatelle
within the Bois.
• After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814, the Bois was abandoned, but after he became
Emperor in 1852, Napolean III, impressed by London’s Hyde Park, donated the land, which
belonged to him, to the City of Paris to establish the Bois de Boulogne, including the Chateau de
Bagatelle, on the city’s west side, along with its sister park, the Bois de Vincennes, on the east
side, both rapidly-growing sections of the city.
• The plans for the park were drawn up under the direction of Baron George-Eugene Hassmann,
the new Prefect of the Seine (city engineer). The designs prepared by Jean-Charles Asphand,
who was in charge of all the Paris parks, included streams and lakes like the Serpentine in Hyde
Park, long straight alleys crisscrossing the park, curving paths and alleys for horses, islands,
groves, lawns, and grassy slopes, as an “idealization of nature.” Planting design was led by Jean-
Pierre Barillet-Deschamps, who had 420,000 trees planted and added 50 deer to live there.
• The park had sports fields, bandstands, stables, shooting galleries, boating, and a racetrack. It
contained 24 pavilions and chalets, cafes, gatehouses, docks, and kiosks. It featured cascades,
grottoes, bridges with balustrades of “faux bois,” a windmill, zoo, and a botanical garden.
• Parisians flocked there in the thousands, promenading on the alleys, picnicking in the woods and
lawns, rowing on the lakes, and skating.
• In 1860, Napoleon opened the Jardin d’Acclimatation at the north end of the park as an
amusement park. It included a zoo and botanical garden, as well as, between 1877 and 1912, a
sort of human zoo where groups of people from exotic countries, such as sub-Saharan Africans,
North Africans, South American Indians, Laps, and Cossacks lived in reconstructed villages like
those of their homelands.
• The Bois de Boulogne hosted events during the 1900 and 1924 Summer Olympics, then in 1945,
held its first motor race. It continues to host the Paris marathon each year.
• Today:
o The Bois contains numerous features, including the newly-remodeled Jardin
d’Acclimatation, the Parc de Bagatelle, a Shakespeare theater, a hippodrome, the Louis
Vuitton Foundation, and various pavilions and sub-parks/gardens, tied together by a
woods crossed by numerous horseback riding paths, foot paths, and unofficial social
trails.
o Some less-traveled portions of the park also host illegal activities, specializing in crossdressing
male prostitutes. This traveler witnessed a gathering of a few at an ad-hoc bar
set up at a corner of the park.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bois_de_Boulogne
https://www.parisinsidersguide.com/paris-bois-de-boulogne.html

Bois de Vincennes

• Part of what was the ancient forest around the Roman town of Lutetia, then became French
royal hunting grounds. In 1336, the Chateau de Vincennes was constructed within what had
become a walled forest. Forest was also home to a monastery.
• Louis 15th opened the park to selected public during his reign, had long straight alleys created in
a pattern of intersecting stars and hundreds of trees planted. In 1794, much of the forest turned
into a military training ground.
• Starting in 1854, Napoleon III and Haussmann redeveloped the Bois as a public park for the
working-class in east Paris, using the skills of Jean-Charles Alphand, who was already working on
the Bois de Boulogne.
• Alphand dealt with the problem of the abandoned training field by acquiring for the city
adjacent parcels of land, then establishing three smaller parks, each with an artificial lake and
picturesque landscape features, around the perimeter of the bois. He then established
attractions like a horse-racing track, cafes and restaurants, and picturesque architecture by city
architect Gabriel Davioud.
• In 1900, the Bois de Vincennes hosted events of the Paris Summer Olympics, including cycling
events at its new velodrome, and an international cricket match. In 1907, its experimental
tropical garden became the site of the Colonial Exposition, which showcased the cultures and
products of French colonies, including six villages, complete with inhabitants, representing
North Africa, Sudan, New Caledonia, Madagascar, French Indochina, and the Congo. In 1931, the
park hosted another Colonial Exposition, which took up the entire side of the park along Avenue
Daumesnil. The entrance gate of this fair is still standing.
• In 1934, the Zoo of Vincennes was opened—it has since been renovated and reopened in 2014.
In 1969, the Parc Floral de Paris was established on the site of the military training grounds and
is one of the city’s four botanical gardens. The Jardin Tropical de Paris is under renovation.
• Today:
o It is possible to rent bikes and ride on numerous curving roads throughout. Other active
sports include walking and running, cricket, tennis, boating, horse racing, bike racing,
and rugby.
o There are concerts at the Parc Floral and other outdoor entertainments.
o Chateau de Vincennes is particularly interesting and has a fascinating exhibit on graffiti.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bois_de_Vincennes

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

• Previously, the site had been a gypsum quarry (used in Plaster of Paris) until exhausted in the
late 1850s. Butte=mound or hillock and Chaumont is derived from the word for bald: chauve
and mountain: mont. The highest point of the park had been the site of the Gibbet of
Montfaucon, where bodies of hanged criminals were displayed. After the Revolution this area
was a dump and sewage depository.
• Designed by Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand as a new park to serve the people of the new 19th
and 20th arrondissments. His team included horticulturalist Jean-Pierre Barillet-Deschamps,
architect Gabriel Davioud, and landscape architect Edouard Francois Andre, the same team who
worked together on the Bois de Boulogne, Bois de Vincennes, and many other parks and
gardens during this time in Paris.
• Example of the French Picturesque, the park has five peaks rising above a 3.7-acre lake and
features an artificial waterfall fed by pumps, grottos created with artificial stalactites, a temple
placed atop one of its peaks (Temple de la Sibylle, inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli,
Italy), two bridges over the lake including a suspension bridge, winding paths that were
originally carriageways revealing continuously changing views, rustic structures, and faux bois/faux branchages concrete and metal furnishings. • Despite an initial naturalistic appearance, critics note that Alphand saw the park as an opportunity for the “glorification of technology and of the machine.” The park was never meant to look completely natural. It has been described as “engineered picturesque” because of its “transformation from a scarred remnant into a verdant, undulating panorama…requir[ing] massive technological ingenuity.” Other critics liken it to a Disney theme park because it is so contrived.
• Work began in 1864. Work to simply terrace the land took two years and involved thousands of workers and many explosives. Cement was used to create its most picturesque features and clay spread on its remodeled slopes to support vegetation. The park was opened to the public in 1867, coinciding with the Paris Universal Exposition. It has around 47 species of plants, including many exotic species from Asia.
• Renovation of the park began in 2013, including addition of a water recycling system for the waterfall. Today, the park hosts an annual film festival and has three restaurants, one of which is a guinguette called the Rosa Bonheur. Park can be accessed from the Buttes-Chaumont metro stop.
• If you have time, stroll through the Quartier de la Mouzaia, a picturesque late 19th century neighborhood just to the east of the park.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parc_des_Buttes_Chaumont
Tate, Alan. Great City Parks. NY NY: Taylor & Francis, 2001, reprinted 2004. pp. 87-95.

Parc Montsoris

• Southern counterpart of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, opened 1869, created by Haussmann and Alphand, with city architect Gabriel Davioud and horticulturist Jean-Pierre Barillet-Deschamps, the team that also created the other three parks of the period.
• Site was an old stone quarry above a network of abandoned mine tunnels, the catacombs.
• 800 skeletons were removed for the work of the park
• Park was built straddling the Paris ring railroad, now known as The Petite Ceinture, which had become a rail-to-trail project
• Designed in the popular naturalistic style of the time, it had an artificial lake, stream, and cascade, faux-bois furnishings, winding carriage roads and paths, picturesque buildings, and hundreds of new trees and shrubs, sloping lawns, and flower beds.
• Work on the park continued until 1878.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parc_Montsouris
20th Century

Parc de la Villette

• This park, run by the national government, was one of Francois Mitterand’s Grands Projets and proclaimed “the urban park for the twenty-first century.” Its design by architect Bernard Tschumi has been widely praised by architects and widely panned by landscape architects.
• The largest park in central Paris was developed on a former industrial site in northeast Paris adjacent to the Boulevard Periphique. It is located on a plain between Buttes-Chaumont and Montmartre and straddling Canal de l’Ourcq. Originally a village, that is La Villette, the area was a market town outside the taxed municipality of Paris, it was connected by the canal to the city in 1808. In 1859, La Villette was annexed into the city by Haussmann and planned to be used for slaughterhouses and meat markets to serve the entire city. This used ceased in 1959 when a national meat market was developed.
• In 1970, the city ceded the land over to the state in 1970. The state planned a new development allocated for low-income housing, economic activities, and social/public facilities. The area is primarily working class with many immigrants. Although some planning was attempted little was done until Mitterand was elected in 1981. In 1982 he announced his “Grand Projets” of development programs.
• The park design was the result of a competition launched in 1982 by the national government. The brief asked for a “new model for the urban park,” in contrast to the green spaces of the Haussmann era. It was to be integrated into the surrounding neighborhood, open to the suburbs outside the periphery, and function as an open air cultural facility.
• The winning design by Tschumi, best known as an architectural theorist, is a weighty expression of “deconstruction” and/or “disjunction,” comprised of three layers: a grid of points represented by bright red steel garden folies, strongly geometric lines both straight and circular, and flat surfaces of lawn, throughout which are arranged theatres, the national science museum in a converted 1960s abattoir building, as well as three music halls. There are also theme gardens, which I completely missed, as well as a well-used playground with a tall dragon slide. Construction of the park was completed in 1995.
• My experience was that it was heavily used by a wide range of people, including many immigrant families.

Parc André Citroën

• Named thus because it was built atop the former site of the Citroen factory on the western edge of central Paris. The factory had been built in 1915 in the Javel area which had been annexed by Haussmann in 1859 to become part of the City of Paris. Prior to the establishment of the factory, the site had been used to grow melons.
• After the Citroen works were relocated in the early 1970s, the city bought the site. In 1979, the city set up the Zone D’Amenagement Concrete Citroen-Cevennes as a comprehensive development area with a public park as its focal point. Around it were planned a hospital to the south, as well as offices and apartments to the north and east.
• The park was the result of a competition launched in 1985 and awarded to two teams of landscape architects and architects: Allain Provost with architects Jean-Paul Viguier and Jean-Francois Jodry, and Gilles Clement with architect Patrick Berger. Both teams had proposed a park with a canal-bordered rectangle of lawn opening onto the Seine in the spirit of the Champs de Mars, the Esplanade des Invalides and the Jardin des Plants. But from there the similarity ends—Clement was interested more in exploring succession and change in plant material, while Provost was more interested in strong forms. However, together, Provost’s forms provide boundaries and structure for Clement’s experiments with plants. Some compare Provost’s work to Le Notre’s geometry. Provost provided the structure while Clement provided the content in six serial gardens expressing the developmental stages of nature according to alchemical theory. The park read to me a little like Versailles’ formal structure with the bosquettes.
• The park is actually two parts: the easternmost is the cozy Jardin Lieutenant Eugénie Malika Djendi, comprised of a series of themed, sunken garden rooms arranged around a central square. This garden is connected to the main park by a diagonal walkway that extends roughly north-northwest through Parc Andre Citroen. The main park is anchored on its eastern end by two large glass conservatories—when I visited, they were both locked and one was empty.
• Construction began in 1987 and the park opened in 1992. A large passenger balloon was added to its western end.

Parc de Bercy

• Third major park completed in Paris in the 1990s on former industrial land (the other two were Parc Andre Citroen and Parc de la Villette)
• Along with Citroen, de Bercy was built by City of Paris and first major parks since Buttes in 1860s
• Designers chosen through an international competition
• Site evolved from a rural landscape in the 18th century to private estates to lumber yards and wine warehouses. Site was outside of the city limits and wine could be unloaded there to avoid paying taxes, but it was annexed by Haussmann in 1859.
• In the 1860s, Viollet-de-Duc designed a more organized group of warehouses there, but left the old patterns of streets and buildings a “pamlimpsest” from the early century.
• By the 1970s, the wine trade ceased in that area and the City of Paris began to consider designing a new neighborhood there with a park at its center and a new, large public building, the whole known as the ZAC de Bercy (Zones d’Amenagement Concerte, French for comprehensive planning area).
• Jacques Chirac, mayor of the city, took an active interest, insisting, for example, that the maximum number of existing mature plane and horse chestnut trees be preserved.
• The placement of the park was seen as reinforcing the axis of the Seine by marking its entrance into the city while Citroe marked its exit. They were also central Paris counterparts to Bois de Boulogne to the west and Bois de Vincennes to the east.
• The City of Paris announced the competition for its design in 1987. It resulted in the choice of the FFL architecture firm and landscape architect Ian Le Caisne, who died in 1991 and was replaced by Philippe Raguin. The team submitted a proposal called Jardin de la Memoire that expressed the history of the site by preserving its old patterns of streets the trees, and the
district’s network of rails, warehouses, and remains of 18th century mansions. The design team saw it as a piece of urban archaeology. Construction started in 1992 and was completed in 1997. • Today, the relatively flat park is anchored on its northwest end by the enormous AccorHotels Arena and a shopping mall on its southeast end. Between lies the park with open and treed meadows at the northwest; then in its heart, the Parterres, which are nine theme gardens, including a central square that features an 18th century mansion and its garden; then, via footbridges over rue Joseph Kessel, the Jardin Romantique, a grid of lawns, trees, water features, and other interesting things, like a conical belvedere. The park is protected from the noise and pollution of the Quai de Bercy freeway by the Grand Terrace, which rises about 25’ above the park and about 28’ above the highway.
Reference: Tate, Alan. Great City Parks (NYNY: Taylor & Francis, 2001, reprint 2004).

Subscribe to the Podcast
Apple Google Spotify RSS
Support the Show
Tip Your Guide Extras Patreon Audio Tours Merchandise
Read more about this guest-notes
Episode Page 

Categories: Day-Trips from Paris, Family Travel, Paris