Paris's best parks and gardens
Discover the best of the French capital's green spaces
For a 105km2 city crammed inside a ring road (la péripherique), Paris has rather a lot of parks. Pack a picnic, take a leisurely stroll, or park yourself on a shaded bench somewhere on this list. If you fancy getting sporty, head to one of the city's 'bois' – former royal hunting grounds, just beyond today's centre, where the verdant expanses provide endless boating, walking and cycling opportunities.
Our top 10 parks and gardens
This is Paris's biggest park, created, like the Bois de Boulogne in the west, when the former royal hunting forest was landscaped by Alphand for Baron Haussmann. There are boating lakes, a Buddhist temple, a racetrack, restaurants, a baseball field and a small farm. You'll also find the Parc Floral – a cross between a botanical garden and an amusement park, where jazz concerts are held on weekends in summer.
- 12e , Paris, France
Covering 865 hectares, the Bois was once the Forêt de Rouvray hunting grounds. It was landscaped in the 1860s, when artificial grottoes and waterfalls were created around the Lac Inférieur. The Jardin de Bagatelle is famous for its roses and water lilies, and contains an orangery that rings to the sound of Chopin in summer. The Jardin d'Acclimatation is a children's amusement park, with a miniature train, farm, rollercoaster and boat rides. The Bois also boasts two racecourses, Longchamp and Auteuil.
- 16e, Paris, France
Between the Louvre and place de la Concorde, the alleyways of these gardens have been a chic promenade ever since they opened to the public in the 16th century. André Le Nôtre created the prototypical French garden with terraces and central vista running down the Grand Axe through circular and hexagonal ponds. The gardens are also dotted with beautiful statues – some copies of ancient works like Coysevox's winged horses (now in the Louvre), and others modern, like Dubuffet's Le Bel Costumé.
- Rue de Rivoli, 1er, Paris, France
The 25-hectare park is a prized family attraction. Kids come from across the city for its pony rides, ice-cream stands, puppet shows, pedal karts, sandpits, metal swingboats and merry-go-round. The playground has an entrance fee.
- 2 rue Auguste Compte, 6e, Paris, France
The Paris botanical garden – which contains more than 10,000 species and includes tropical greenhouses and rose, winter and Alpine gardens – is an enchanting place. Begun by Louis XIII's doctor as the royal medicinal garden in 1626, it opened to the public in 1640. The formal garden is like something out of Alice in Wonderland. There's also the Ménagerie (a small zoo). A plaque on the old laboratory declares that Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity here in 1896.
- 36 rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, 2 rue Buffon, place Valhubert ou 57 rue Cuvier, 5e, Paris, France
If you're looking for gardens a little less formal than Tuileries and Luxembourg, one patch of greenery definitely worth a stroll is the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Set high up in Belleville and often missed by weekenders keen not to stray too far from the tourist loop, this 19th arrondissement gem is one of the city's most magical spots. The park, with its meandering paths, waterfalls, temples and vertical cliffs, was designed by Adolphe Alphand was opened as part of the celebrations for the Universal Exhibition in 1867.
- Rue Botzaris, 19e, Paris, France
Up the slopes of the Hauts de Belleville, there are views over the city from rue Piat and rue des Envierge, but as far as panoramas go, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better skyscape than the one rolling below the Parc de Belleville. This modern but charming common, was created in 1988 to bring a stretch of greenery to the park-deprived 20th, and from its slopes you can see as far as the Eiffel Tower in the west.
- Rue Piat, 20e, Paris
This park is a fun, postmodern version of a French formal garden, designed by Gilles Clément and Alain Prévost. It comprises glasshouses, computerised fountains, waterfalls, a wilderness and themed gardens featuring different coloured plants and even sounds. Stepping stones and water jets make it a garden for pleasure as well as philosophy. The tethered Eutelsat helium balloon takes visitors up for panoramic views.
- Rue Balard, rue Saint-Charles ou quai André Citroën, 15e, Paris, France
Dotted with red pavilions, or folies, the park was designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi and is a postmodern feast. The folies serve as glorious giant climbing frames, as well as a first-aid post, bars and children's art centre. As well as the lawns, which are used for an open-air film festival in summer, there are ten themed gardens bearing evocative names such as the Garden of Mirrors, of Mists, of Acrobatics and of Childhood Frights.
- Avenue Corentin Cariou, 19e, Paris, France
These romantic glasshouses were opened in 1895 to cultivate plants for Paris parks and public spaces. Today there are seasonal displays of orchids and begonias. Look out for the steamy tropical pavilion, which is home to palms, birds and Japanese ornamental carp.
- 3 avenue de la Porte d'Auteuil, 16e, Paris, France