When it’s hot in Paris, it can be refreshing to escape the city’s polluted streets and sticky metro with a walk in one of the capital’s beautiful green spots, stopping along the way for a picnic or a spot of sunbathing.
Paris’ parks are perfectly suited to a civilised
stroll. The regal and perfectly manicured Jardin
des Tuileries, attached to the Louvre,
provides a large expanse of greenery complete with topiary, sculptures and
fountains, right in the centre of the capital. Or channel your inner Left Bank flâneur (idler) and go for a wander --
or a spot of tennis -- at the Jardin
de Luxembourg. For something slightly less conventional but still very
aristocratic, stroll among a Dutch windmill, a Chinese pagoda and a gothic castle
-- all of which can be found in Parc Monceau,
which was constructed by the eccentric Duc de Chartres as his private garden in
the 18th Century. For something equally extraordinary, wander through Buttes
Chaumont, a 25-hectare park in the 19th arrondissement built in the last
years of Napoleon’s reign that includes waterfalls, caves, a suspension bridge
and a neo-classical temple with spectacular views over Paris.
For a waterside stroll there are the banks of the Seine -- and a
particularly good spot for a quintessentially Parisian picnic is at the eastern
tip of the Ile St Louis, a natural island in the Seine. For a hipper setting,
wander along the bobo (bourgeois bohemian) paradise of the Canal
St Martin, a shop- and cafe-lined canal in the trendy 10th arrondissement,
which packs out with picnickers and revellers as soon as the sun shines (and
well into the night, too). Follow the canal northwards as it becomes Canal
l’Ourcq where you can play pétanque
on the quayside or have a drink on one of the moored boats. Keep on following
the canal and you’ll reach Parc
de la Villette, a modernist park featuring a science museum, a night club,
an art gallery and all kinds of fun activities -- including an open air
cinema festival in July and August.
For a contemporary backdrop to your stroll, check out
Plantée, a planted walkway that crosses the 12th arrondissement and was
built along a disused railway track. At several metres above street level, you
can wander among cherry trees, roses and willows -- and leave the city quite
literally beneath you.
Kim Laidlaw Adrey is
the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes unlockparis.blogspot.com.