Located along the western edge of the 16th arrondissement in Paris, the Bois de Boulogne is the second largest park in the city. For those wanting to escape the rush of the city, or enjoy a pleasant promenade, a visit to the Bois de Boulogne is a must. The Bois de Boulogne contains a variety of things to explore; including several lakes, the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil, the Château de Bagatelle along with its magnificent gardens, a pleasant children’s amusement park in the Jardin d’Acclimatation, and with the most recent addition of the Fondation Louis Vuitton.
One could easily spend an entire day wandering the various sights and places within the park, or perhaps explore each of the different treasures within the park individually. Here are my top 5 things to see and do in the Bois de Boulogne!
Row across the Lac Inferieur
Situated southeast of the Bois de Boulogne, the Lac Inferieur is the largest lake within the park. It is a delightful scene, where two manmade islands are a joined by a bridge, but can only be accessed via boat. One day, a friend and I walked around the entire lake, intrigued with what we were seeing. Walking along the woody trails surrounding the lake, one is guaranteed to see a unique part of Paris.
Am absolute must when visiting either the Chalet des Îles and Lac Inferieur is to rent a rowing boat! Last weekend, I had the pleasure of doing just this with some of my best friends. Whilst under Napoleon III, rowing was reserved for the social elite; nowadays anyone can enjoy this leisurely activity. Renting a boat on Lac Inferieur was absolutely fantastic. Not only is it a really fun activity to take part in (despite myself being incredibly rubbish at rowing), but it’s a great way to see the Lake and explore the islands too.
Wine and dine at Chalet des îles
It was by pure chance that I discovered this hidden gem in the Bois de Boulogne. What can I say, thank you Instagram! It was after some Instagram searching that I laid eyes on the enchanting Chalet des Îles in a photo and immediately knew that I had to visit it.
Located on one of the islands of Lac Inferieur is Chalet des Iles. As previously mentioned, this Chalet is truly enchanting. To access, visitors must take a boat across the lake, at the mere €1.50 for a round trip. Here at le Chalet des Îles, one can have a delicious meal in the restaurant, or relax by the lakeside at the bar. You don’t just have to go to the Chalet to eat, you can also explore the two islands, and perhaps enjoy a home-made picnic amongst the trees.
Fondation Louis Vuitton
As you walk around the Bois de Boulogne, from the corner of your eye you’ll probably notice an exquisite sculptural-like structure surfacing from the immense forest, as if overlooking the surrounding landscape. This unusual building so happens to be owned by the French luxury giant LVMH. It’s the Fondation Louis Vuitton.
Located within the Bois de Boulogne in the Jardin d’Acclimatation, just west to the very centre of Paris, the Fondation Louis Vuitton opened in October 2014. Designed by the Candian Architect, Frank Gehry, the Fondation Louis Vuitton has become a spectacular addition to Paris.
The Louis Vuitton Foundation is not only a unique piece of architecture. There are a variety of exhibitions that you can visit inside, including a permanent collection of both modern and contemporary art, temporary exhibits and lots of multidisciplinary events throughout the year.
The Château where Marie-Antoinette lost her own bet – the Château de Bagatelle
Whilst in the Bois de Boulogne, the Parc de Bagatelle is home to a small neoclassical Château – the Château de Bagatelle. Constructed originally as a place to stay whilst hunting within the Bois de Boulogne, the Château has an interesting history.
In 1777 Marie-Antoinette wagered against the Count of Artois that it was impossible to build a palace with a park in less than three months. In an attempt to win the bet, the Count of Artois appointed architect François-Joseph Bélanger and Scottish landscape designer Thomas Blaikie to create the Château. And by Jove – they won! The Château and the surrounding park was built in just 64 days, making Marie-Antoinette loser of the bet. I have no idea what it meant to lose, so it would be interesting to see what the outcome was for Marie-Antoinette in this wager!
The Rose Garden of Parc de Bagatelle
Located in the beautiful Parc de Bagatelle, is a magnificent Rose Garden, and must visit if you are in the Bois de Boulogne. The rose garden is filled with around 10,000 rose bushes of 1,200 different varieties, and every June there is an international competition for new roses, Concours international de roses nouvelles de Bagatelle. Walking around the garden, one cannot but be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of all the flowers – and the smell! If you come at the right time during the summer when the roses are in full bloom, the smell of the different species is captivating.
Also in the Rose Garden is the Orangerie. Built in 1865, the Orangerie is a classical-style building where concerts are held throughout the year. Don’t forget to check out the delightfully quaint Victorian-style pavilion which overlooks the Rose Garden. Situated at the top of a small mound, the Kiosque is a great place to sit, relax and take in the beautiful surroundings.
So if you’re ever in Paris during the summer, or just fancy seeing a new part of the city, I without a doubt recommend heading over to experience the beauty of the Parc de Bagatelle Rose Garden yourself.
Have you been to the Boise de Boulogne? If so, what is your favourite thing to see and do there? Would love to know for my next visit!