Want some of the best views of Paris away from the tourist crowds? Then head up to the Panthéon’s Viewing Platform.
Check out my blog post of all the best things to see and do in 24 hours in Paris. Get away from the tourists and head over to the secret gems that Parisians don’t want you to know about. Continue reading “24 hours in Paris: things to see and do”
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!
In January I was lucky to be given the funding from Jesus College to head over to Paris as part of my research for my dissertation. The main goal of this trip was to be able to see a manuscript that I am researching in person at the BNF (Bibliothèque Nationale de France). The actual process of getting in touch with the BNF and requesting access to the manuscript wasn’t that difficult (to my surprise!), and I was eventually granted permission to be able to see my manuscript. Despite it being only for half a day, due to the fragile nature of the manuscript and the fact that it is part of the BNF’s special collection, it was a great experience to be able to see and touch the pages that I had been long looking at only on screen.
I’m not gonna lie, and maybe only fellow medievalists will understand this, but oh my – what an amazing time I had! When my manuscript was finally brought out to me, I could feel my hands trembling. I was so excited! To be able to physically handle a manuscript from the 13th/14th century, how often do you get to do that!? (Well, actually, here at Oxford we get to do that quite a lot, but that’s beside the point…). I don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting it to be the size it was, and I also wasn’t expecting the folios to be so fragile. I guess that’s what happens when you spend your time looking at objects such as these via computer screens and in books – you forget the actual materiality quality of the objects themselves. Whenever I handle manuscripts, I always try to remember the fact that these were made from living animals, the skin of cows etc. There’s something magical, albeit a little gross about this. It was also a wonderful experience just to be able to turn the pages over, mirroring the actual experience of those 13th century people looking at it. That’s another thing about studying manuscripts and other medieval objects via computers that can be unhelpful, the fact that you can also lose sight of how these objects were used, held, and experienced. I could ramble on for hours talking about how fun it was to be able to interact with an object I have grown to love and appreciate so much, but I will save you all from it.
Due to the fact that I only had access to the manuscript for half a day meant that I went a little obsessive with the amount of photos I took. But hey, I have no regrets! It was important to be able to survey each folio individually, making notes of any particular features that could not be seen on the photos that the BNF have released online.
After spending a mentally fatiguing and exciting day at the BNF, I spent the remaining days in Paris meeting up with friends and my former Au Pair family. I had such a wonderful time in Paris, not only being back in the city that I love so much, but to be able to advance in my research and be able to actually see the manuscript in person!
I have a lot of work now that I need to get on with, including some very difficult attempts at choiring my manuscript – but this is what I love, and cannot wait to get down to it.
Also, a big thank you to Jesus College for providing me with the funding to be able to make this special trip to the BNF.
I just wanted to say, that like so many, I cannot believe the tragedy and horror that took place last night. Watching the news life for hours last night, and I cannot even imagine how the people of Paris are feeling. All my best friends still in Paris are safe and sound, but as with many this will not be the case – they are in my prayers and thoughts.
Paris est dans mes pensées et mes prières, et j’espere tout mes amis en Paris sont hors de danger et comme avec la attaque Charlie Hebdo, la nation la nation sera unitéd au cours de cette période terrible 🇫🇷
I hope that Paris, France and the whole of Europe will stand united and show that the attackers will not destroy our hope in peace and solitary.
“Peace for Paris” Illustration by @jean_jullien