The way that Paris is laid out, there is always a garden, often even a fairly large garden, close by no matter what part of the city you are in. Some of the good walking gardens are the Tuileries, Parc Monceau, Jardin de Luxembourg and Champ de Mars. If you’ve got a whole day ahead of you then be sure to choose from any of these outdoor day excursions : Bois de Vincennes, where there is the Parc Floral, the Château de Vincennes and a small lake for rowing you and your kids around in a rental row boat; Bois de Boulogne, through which it is delightful to walk and often even more enjoyable to ride a bicycle through ; Promenade Planté, an elevated pedestrian and bicycle path that leads from the Bastille all the way to Vincennes, and offers the peculiar sensation of walking along the Paris rooftops.
But besides these iconic ‘espace vert‘ landmarks, the entire city is dotted with smaller gardens and parks. If you love the outdoors or enjoy sitting in a beautifully tended garden-park full of flowers as you eat your lunch or read a book – or eat your lunch while reading a book – then this list has a few of those. Here you’ll find tucked away little neighborhood favorites like Place Dauphine and Square Barye, where you are sure to enjoy. Even in the winter time, when the temperatures don’t permit lolling around on a park bench for any length of time, these gardens can still serve as a sort of quiet ‘jardin d’hiver’ offering peace and a taste of nature. And remember, these are perfect places in which to take a deep breath, let the oxygen circulate all around your body, and exhale, letting it all go…
Named after the prince who would one day be King Louis XIII, this picturesque enclosed square is a local favorite for playing petanque on warm summer afternoons. During the holiday season it is festooned with tall Christmas trees, decorated with seasonal ribbons and bows.
Some historical notables to be conscious of, though while you gaze around at this movie-set like enclosed Parisian square: In front of what is N° 26 Place Dauphine today, is where Jacques de Molay, commander of the Knights Templar, was burned alive along with his men-in-arms on 11th, March 1314. And at N°15 is where French movie stars, Yves Montand and Simone Signoret once called home.
When seated up on the slightly elevated area underneath the chestnut trees facing inwards towards the square, it is the Palais de Justice that is the regal building behind you.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: You may traverse Pont Neuf dozens of times before you ever peek down the little alley-like street that is the main entranceway to Place Dauphine.
Paige’s expert tip: The square is also dotted with art galleries, cafes and a couple of restaurants. So besides playing petanque or quietly reading a book, you can also grab lunch, dinner or even just a glass of wine.
This garden-park and walkway along the Left Bank of the Seine is commonly referred to as the Outdoor Sculpture Museum. All along the 2 km. pathway there are sculptures ‘en plein air’ (outdoors) that are sure to grab your attention.
The other things that are sure to grab your attention are the magnificent swatches of planted flower beds and gardens that the resident gardening team outdo themselves cultivating. For a recent city-wide gardening competition they themed several of their garden patches ‘Legends and Tales’ and constructed a Hobbit House and even an enchanted garden full of red dahlias, craven old withered black branches and other magical foliage.
In the summer this is the spot to be in the afternoons when large groups of people gather spontaneously to ballroom dance. the cul-de-sac sunken platforms along the Seine here offer perfect dance floors and people regularly take full advantage of them.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: This is less of a garden in which to sit and more of a riverside walkway along which to stroll and take in the sites.
Paige’s expert tip: Art, dancing, gardening – this outdoor park and walkway offers all that and more. The outdoor sculptures with their Seine backdrop are sites of beauty; the groups of ballroom dancers who regularly spontaneously assemble here are exhilarating; and the planted flower beds are inspiring objects of living beauty. It’s known as the Outdoor Sculpture Museum.
The accurate name of this outdoor market used to be Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux Cité. That translates to (Ile de la) Cité Flower and Bird Market, which has been in this same spot since 1808. But most people refer to it just as the Flower Market, or the Marché aux Fleurs. However, this centuries old flower market was renamed recently in honor Queen Elizabeth II. At any rate, the birds are only there on Sundays, when they are displayed in their fine gilt cages, including some of the rarest of species.
The Paris flower market offers visitors a bucolic walk through Belle Epoque pavillions overflowing with flowers of every color, variety, scent and size. It’s open nearly every day throughout the year, though some vendors close on Mondays. The iron green pavillions dating from 1900 have been the subject of many sketches and paintings throughout the ages.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: This market has existed here since 1808. It was formed by decree by Napoleon himself and formally inaugurated in 1809.
Paige’s expert tip: This historic flower market was renamed in 2014 in honor of Queen Elizabeth II: Marché aux Fleurs – Reine Elizabeth II. On Sundays, it offers a great kids’ attraction because that’s the day the birds are brought out in their cages to show off their colorful plumage and regale visitors with their birdsong. It also just so happens to be a stone’s throw from Notre Dame Cathedral.
Get a kick out of walking along an old viaduct and train line that is elevated to the level of the building rooftops you pass. Only pedestrians and bicycles are allowed on this ancient pathway that spans 4.7 km (just about 2 miles) lined with hazelnut and lime trees connecting the Bastlle with the Bois de Vincennes (Porte Dor�e).
When the train line ran, its end station was where the Op�ra de la Bastille now stands today. This tree-lined, wide pathway has you walking across numerous foot bridges and past several spacious green spaces where you can stop and picnic or just relax with a book, or both.
This is one of those gorgeous outdoor activities that not a lot of tourists think to do. It’s a fun walk or bike ride in either direction, going to or from the Bastlle/ Bois de Vincennes.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Walking along a rose-filled, tree planted elevated greenway as you gaze at the traffic below and Haussmanian building rooftops at eye level is unparalleled.
Paige’s expert tip: At one part of the pathway near the Bastille, you are walking above the Viaduc des Arts, a series of crafts-oriented Made In France workshops that showcases artisanal items. These items are all for sale and can make thoughtful souvenirs and gifts.
From the street-level, this appears to be another charming Parisian park where kids can play in the little playground while their parents gossip and/or read a book. And in that sense, appearances would not be misleading.
But what this unassuming park, just across the street from the landmark Garage de l’Ile St.-Louis, gives access to, is the fairly isolated little open-air space down along the lower quay. In fact, you may live in Paris for years before you discover this hidden stairwell that gives access to the area below, favored by locals for sunning themselves in the summer months.
Along one side of the Quai, you overlook the Quai St.-Bernard. Walk out to the tip and continue down along the other side, and now you are overlooking the Quai Henri IV. Depending on the time of day, one is either shaded or in the sunshine, you choose your pick.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Quiet solitude up close and next to the river Seine is what this outdoor space offers. Rarely, luckily, is it chock full of people.
Paige’s expert tip: This is one of the best places in Paris to bring a book and watch the boats go by. If you feel like some company, it is equally idyllic to grab a friend, a bottle of wine and some nibbles and make an afternoon of it. On sunny afternoons, it’s also a sunbathing favorite of local pasty Parisians.
In the late 18th century, Parc Monceau was created on the Monceau plain for the Duke of Chartres. It was filled with water features, statues and architectural elements from many other cultures, including a recreated pagoda and Roman temple. Visitors can take time to admire a windmill, a pyramid or simply wander through medieval ruins. The park became public domain after the French Revolution. In recent years it has become the default jogging track for well-heeled Parisians who live in the surrounding uppercrust neighborhoods of the 8th, 16th and 17th arrondissements. In the mornings and evenings the perimeter path turns into a jogging track and workout zone. METRO: Monceau
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: A gorgeous park not at all far from the Champs-Elysées. And here you are allowed to sit on the grass in the warmer seasons.
Paige’s expert tip: Looking for a place to jog/work out other than the cobble-stoned paths along the Seine ? This is where you’ll find the beautiful people of Paris’ classiest neighborhoods jogging in their designer workout wear. Dogs are also allowed, on leash, here.
On a quiet little Latin Quarter street between the Seine fronting Notre Dame Cathedral and the fresh market of Maubert-Mutualité, is this gem-like oasis of a garden park. Small by Parisian standards, it is also not well known and therefore often you will find yourself alone nestled here on a park bench, surrounded by ancient stone wall buildings, trees and blooming flowers.
In other words, this is one of the most ideal places to which to retreat with a book in hand and sunshine on your shoulder. The garden is planted with cyprus trees, symbol of immortality. And there is also one cherry tree. The street takes its name from one of the streams that flowed along this trajectory in ancient times and served to source the St.-Victor Abby with fresh water.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Even if you know the Latin Quarter like ‘the back of your hand’ you may never stumble upon this little hidden piece of green paradise.
Paige’s expert tip: Just a few steps up the street you will find the celebrated Boulevard St.-Germain. This part of it, near Maubert-Mutualité is bedecked with several little asian food shops and eateries. So if a bowl of hot noodles or or a bag of shrimp chips are your thing, this is a good place for a quiet, peaceful lunch-on-the-go.
This enclosed garden at the Western tip of the Ile de la Cité takes its name from the nickname, ‘vert-galant’ of King Henri IV (born a Bourbon). It was indeed once royal lands, and for centuries served as the private gardens of French Kings & Queens when they still resided in the neighboring Sainte-Chapelle palace.
To access the square you first orient yourself towards the larger-than-life equestrian bronze statue of King Henri IV that graces the midway point of Pont Neuf. Behind the statue are stairwells on either side that descend to the lower level of the Quai, where this garden is located. It’s also where the Vedettes de Paris, the river cruise boats are. Intriguingly, this ground level a few feet above the Seine where the garden still stands, once was the level of the entire Ile de la Cité, a good 7 meters below where it is now.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: This is an absolute local favorite. It’s also a perfect location for a romantic stroll around the exterior, or a family picnic inside the park.
Paige’s expert tip: One of the loveliest things about this garden on the tip of Ile de la Cité is that it is encircled by a walkway. This walkway is often populated by seated groups of people enjoying wine, cheese, sausage and baguettes as they dangle their feet over the wall along the Seine. The prized seat is of course just under the Weeping Willow, planted in 2009, that is at the very western tip. Here you have fairytale views straight out over the Pont des Arts, the Louvre, the Monnaie de Paris and the coupole of the Institut de France.
It was only in 1884 that these lands were ceded to the state by French royalty for the symbolic sum of one French franc. King Henri IV’s personality is intertwined with these gardens because he was notoriously famous for his preoccupation with beauty, sentimentality and long garden walks.
Stretching between the Louvre and place de la Concorde, this garden originally dates to 1564, when Catherine de Medici had it constructed as a reminder of her home in Italy. Historically, it marked one of the first times that Paris displayed beauty and elegance outdoors rather than only inside. It took its present layout by Andr– Le Nôtre during the reign of Louis XIV. Boasting gravel paths, avenues of lovely trees and numerous sculptures, both historic and modern, the garden is a peaceful place to spend an afternoon, or to come for lunch when visiting the Louvre as there are several outdoor caf–s and restaurants. In summer there is a big funfair.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Locals come mostly to just sit on the benches and read a book, chat with a friend or, of course, sail the small boats.
Paige’s expert tip: The large central fountain just past the Place de la Concorde entrance is where children and their parents congregate to sail the little wooden boats across in spring, summer and fall. You can now easily purchase these boats at the newly spiffed up H–tel de Ville tourist office.
Summer of 2014 was the first season people really got to enjoy this daring urban planning escapade undertaken by the city of Paris. What once was a freeway where speeding cars raced along the river embankment, is now a completely pedestrian zone.
This little playground in particular is a popular spot. It is easily accessed since it is just below the Hotel de Ville and offers views directly onto the Ile St. Louis. There is an outdoor café that serves crepes and cold drinks on fair weather days. The playground is reserved for kids under 12 so this is definitely a family-friendly zone. What’s more, with its riverside seats, parents can socialize against one of the most storybook backdrops you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: An outdoor playground such as this is not to be found everywhere. The kids get to play while parents can watch the boats go by.
Paige’s expert tip: The best time to enjoy this long stretch of riverfront recreation is during the hot summer months. But any time of year it is welcoming. This particular little playground, reserved for kids, is to be found just below Paris City Hall, the majestic Hotel de Ville.