Bois de Boulogne
Located on the outer fringes of western Paris on the border of the 16th arrondissement, this vast park covers an area of 2100 acres, making it twice as large as London’s Hyde Park and three times New York’s Central Park. The Bois de Boulogne is home to several lakes, picturesque Dutch windmills, wandering forested paths, two tracks for racing (one for horses, one for bicycles), numerous gardens — including the Jardin d’Acclimatation —, and the Foundation Louis Vuitton. It’s the perfect place for any kind of visit, be it a long bike ride, a casual family stroll, a sun-drenched lakeside picnic, or even mushroom picking in the fall. However, this famous daytime wonder is notorious for turning into a red light district at night, so going after dark isn’t recommended.
Located inside the Bois de Boulogne, the Jardin d’Acclimatation is a zoological children’s amusement park which dates back to the 19th century. A peek into the history of the garden (it once hosted ‘human zoos‘) provides an interesting look at France’s often-ignored, troubled colonial past. Today’s explorers here will find lions, bears, and monkeys, as well as a merry-go-round, puppet show, and various children’s workshops. In winter, the garden hosts a Christmas festival with a children’s ice rink and illuminations, and on warm days it provides a relaxing setting for lunch – after all, who doesn’t want to look up from a sandwich and see a tame deer strolling by?
Jardins du Trocadéro
This is one of the best places to get a stunning view of the city’s biggest landmark. Located right in front of the Eiffel Tower, this is where Hitler took his famous selfie in 1940. The garden’s main feature is the Fontaines de Varsovie (Fountains of Warsaw) which are known for impressive water displays using 20 high-powered water cannons. Here you will also find two gilded bronze animal statues, as well as the two stone statues L’homme (Pierre Traverse) and La Femme (Daniel Bacqué). This spot is perfect for daytime sightseeing, but even more magical after sunset, when the Eiffel Tower lights up and glitters like diamonds.
The Passy Cemetery
Although a cemetery may seem a bit morbid on the surface, it can be extremely rewarding if you dig a bit deeper. The Passy Cemetery makes for a great, less-crowded alternative to the tourist-trampled Père Lachaise and holds some of the most famous french celebrities’ graves, including Claude Debussy and Édouard Manet. Filled with stunning mausoleums, there’s also a useful a map which indicates some renowned families who now rest here. Interesting art and designs accompany many of the graves, and the lovely little pathways are gently shaded by the trees in the hotter months. With the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop to a splendid view of Parisian history, this modest little cemetery isn’t one to miss!
Square Brignole Galliera
This little green refuge is tucked away behind the Palais de Tokyo, through beautiful iron latticework gates, and facing the lovely Palais Galliera. Built in an Italian style by the Marquise of Ferrari and Duchess of Gallieri, this lovely garden is decorated with a fountain, flower beds, and Greek statuary. Numerous benches form a sweeping crescent that faces the small palace, which makes this spot a delightful lunch stop or resting point on a long sightseeing walk.
Hippodrome de Longchamp
The Longchamp racecourse, or Hippodrome de Longchamp, is a 57 hectare horse racing site nestled between the Seine and the Bois de Boulogne. It hosts multiple large racing events such as Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe and smaller races on Sundays, when there is also the possibility of guided visits. With the ability to hold 50,000 spectators, these events can be huge and known for cosmopolitan crowds. If you’re not interested in horses, then enjoy the groups of shiny, spandex-clad cyclists pumping their way around the Hippodrome’s 3.6km circumference.
By Sophie Smith