While hordes of tourists cramp into Paris during the summer peak season, it might seem that Paris is much less attractive in autumn. Quite the contrary. Paris is beautiful in autumn as it gradually dons its various shades of golden colors. Besides indulging in a hot chocolate in a warm café, these Parisian parks are perfect places to be surrounded by autumn’s multi-hued charm.
From Hugo to Hemingway to Henry James, the Luxembourg Gardens is regarded as one of the most spectacular green spaces in the city. And it’s no wonder, with its vibrant flower displays (groundkeepers plant fresh blooms every 3 weeks), shady tree-lined promenades, pétanque playing grounds, and statuary devoted to the queens of France. On sunny days, the waters of the central fountain come alive with model boats sailed by local children. This Parisian favorite was built by Marie de Medici, queen of France and mother of Louis XIII, and was designed in an Italian style reminiscent of the gardens of her home country. The best way to enjoy the gardens in fall is with a good book, a warming cup of vin chaud, and a comfortable seat overlooking the Palais de Luxembourg.
Established in 1635 by King Louis XIII as the royal medicinal herb garden, today the Jardin des Plantes serves as the home to the Museum of Natural History and the largest botanical park in France. The diversity of plants here is staggering; the alpine garden alone hosts over 3,000 species. Forget fall colors – visitors here can enjoy greenery even as the cold descends upon Paris at the Jardin’s enormous hothouses. Choose from the Art Deco winter garden, the balmy Mexican garden, or the arid Australian hothouse. Don’t miss the phenomenal Rose Garden, the Ménagerie (populated by animals transplanted from the now-defunct royal Versailles zoo), and the delightful labyrinth.
Skirting the eastern edge of Paris, the Bois de Vincennes (or forest of Vincennes) provides the space, fresh air, and calm that is difficult to find in the city center. Just 20 minutes on metro line 1 is enough to get you away from the maddening crowds and into glorious nature. The park spans approximately ten square kilometers, and encompasses four lakes, a zoo, and multiple gardens. Green lovers can enjoy a striking biodiversity with four hundred varieties of apple and pear trees, over six hundred varieties of irises, and even three hundred varieties of lilacs. Ever hear that rubber comes from trees? It does, and the Bois de Vincennes has those, too. You can even check out the 14th century Château de Vincennes where Mata Hari was imprisoned.
Beloved by locals yet unknown to tourists, the Buttes Chaumont is a hidden gem. It was designed by Baron Haussman, the mastermind behind the 19th century renovation of Paris. The park is located on a hilly corner of Paris where it delivers gorgeous views of the city – a perfect spot to enjoy fiery autumn sunsets. The park is home to a lake, grotto, waterfalls, and a dreamy Roman temple (modeled after the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli). Party lovers will also appreciate the rowdy Rosa Bonheur, a traditional French guinguette particularly loved by the hipster crowd.
Jardin des Tuileries by Dalbera | Courtesy of Wikicommons
The Jardin des Tuileriesis located in the very heart of Paris, surrounded by the Louvre, the river Seine and the Place de la Concorde. Designed in 1664 by the master of French gardening, Andre le Nôtre, these gardens were once reserved for royalty and the inhabitants of the Louvre Palace. The floral displays continue to be sumptuous: in spring and autumn over 7,000 square meters of the garden are planted with up to seventy thousand plants and bulbs. In the fall, you can see sculptures by Rodin and Maillol peeking through the golden trees – and for those who are feeling romantic, Rodin’s the Kiss is hiding just in front of the Musée de l’Orangerie.
Parc Monceau is not as expansive as its grander sisters, however it has an intimacy and elegance that make it very worthwhile. It’s also not your typical French park! Here you will not find linear walkways and square-shaped trees, but instead curved meandering paths, sloping lawns, and a variety of eccentric follies (including an Egyptian pyramid, a Chinese fort, a Dutch windmill, and Corinthian pillars). Our favorite reason to visit Parc Monceau? The whole place is a free wifi hotspot!