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!
Located to the south of the city, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, is a spectacular park which seems to be under the radar for tourists and many Parisians alike. Overall, the Parc Montsouris encompasses 15 hectares in space (37 acres), and the design of the park was modeled as a traditional English Landscape garden.
Originally the site of a former granite quarry, Parc Montsouris was then redeveloped and opened in 1869 under Emperor Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann. However, whilst creating the park, there came some slightly morbid issues. Underneath where the park is today was a network of tunnels and abandoned mines, which had been filled with human skeletons. Therefore, before the work could continue, the human remains had to be removed and placed elsewhere – nice! In conjunction with the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne, the Parc Montsouris is one of the four large parks that surround the city.
The Parc Montsouris is a wonderful place to come for a promenade, picnic and relaxation. At the centre of the park is a charming lake which is home to a wide variety of bird-species, including swans and wildfowl. The park also contains an abundance of wide lawns, a cascade and large variety of plants, including around 150 different species of trees.
A notable feature of the park is the vast selection of sculptures placed Strategically throughout the landscape. As you walk around the different parts of the park, every now and then a piece of sculpture will emerge from behind a tree or vista. Many of these public sculptures date to as far back as the mid-19th century, with many created during the 1960s.
A visit to Parc Montsouris is a definite must – being the perfect place to relax and walk around the landscape. It is such a hidden gem within the southern part of the city, and one could easily spend a whole day there enjoying the environment (and weather hopefully, depending on when you go!)
The Bois de Boulogne has a little secret, one that many people do not know about. It’s the Parc de Bagatelle, located to the left of the park near the River Seine. This fantastic park is one of the city’s four botanical gardens, and should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Paris.
Within the park, there are numerous things to see and you could easily pass a few hours exploring all the different parts of the park. The expansive landscape of the Parc de Bagatelle is predominately designed in a mix of Anglo-Chinese style. As you wander around the park, you will also stumble upon some hidden gems; including several artificial caves and cascades to look from, grottoes to explore and ponds with water lilies. Oh, and you’ll also notice the beautiful Peacocks who roam freely around the park. If you don’t see them in person, I’m sure you’ll come across one or two of their feathers lying around!
The Parc de Bagatelle is also 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 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!
Despite being relatively unknown to tourists, and perhaps even Parisians alike, the park’s Rose Garden is one of its best-known features. Here one can admire the amazing array of roses within the garden. As you walk around, you 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. In fact, in the Rose Garden there is an estimated 10,000 rose bushes of 1,200 different varieties – that’s a whole lot of rose! Every June there is an international competition for new roses, Concours international de roses nouvelles de Bagatelle.
Also located in the Rose Garden is the Orangerie. Built in 1865, the Orangerie is a classical-style building where concerts are held throughout the year.
Overlooking the Rose Garden is a sweet Victorian style Pavilion, the Kiosque de l’Impératrice. Located at the top of a small mound, the Kiosque is a great place to sit, relax and take in the beautiful surroundings.
The English connections don’t stop at the style of the park however. In 1853 the park was sold to an English man, Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford and was eventually left to Sir Richard Wallace upon Lord Hertford’s death in 1870. During this period, the Château contained a large collection of French artwork, much of which came from the Wallace Collection in London.
The Parc de Bagatelle is definitely one of the best-kept secrets of Paris. When my Mum and I visited, we had a wonderful day walking around the different areas of the park and smelling all the beautiful roses. The park was completely quiet; in fact, at some moments it was just the peacocks and us! It was as if we had gone back in time when it was a private park, and we were just going for a leisurely afternoon stroll.
Up in the 18th arrondissement, Paris has a little secret – Les Jardins du Ruisseau. As part of La Petite Ceinture (‘the Little Belt’), the former railway route has been opened to the public, with many of the old train stations having been redeveloped. It is here that the previous Gare de Charonne has been reconverted into a chic new restaurant and the delightful Jardins du Ruisseau are situated. After being used as a landfill site, in 1998 it was proposed to turn this space into a garden for schools and the community.
After much expansion and redevelopment, Les Jardins du Ruisseau is now a small haven. Maintained by volunteers and local schools, the Jardins du Ruisseau has become a great place to come for a walk. As you wander up and down the garden along the train tracks, you’ll see a variety of flowers and plants. There are even seats and tables where you can bring your own food and enjoy a lovely picnic in the sun. The Jardins du Ruisseau is a delightfully sweet place, taking you from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Throughout the year the Jardins du Ruisseau opens its doors to a variety of different events; including live shows, education events and exhibitions. There seems to be an incredibly strong social bond at the Jardins du Ruisseau, and I definitely recommend spending some time here. During the summer, the gardens are open Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday.
After wandering around the sweet Jardins du Ruisseau, head on up to the hip restaurant/café La Recyclerie. Originally a former train station, La Recyclerie has fast become one of the places to go and hangout at in Paris. Here you can wine and dine overlooking the spectacular Jardins du Ruisseu and former train tracks, or even relax on the terrace if the weather is nice. Not only is the food and drinks great at La Recyclerie, but there are a lots of things happening here – for example, there is a permanent DIY workshop situated within the former train station called Chez René. Here you can learn the tricks of the trade when it comes to restoring timeless pieces. There are also heaps of pop-up shops that are often set up along the train track in conjunction to the La Recyclerie, so definitely check out their website to see what’s coming up.