An island in the river Seine in Paris- you can go for luxury ice creams at the famous Berthillon's shop and feed tame sparrows by hand.
Take the Metro to the Pont Marie stop, and then cross the bridge.
Google map: bit.ly/ZcEwmi
I would recommend the Jardin d' Acclimatation, in the north part of the lush Bois de Boulogne. It is easily reached by underground and it is a children's amusement park, there are also playgrounds and great for a picnic.
Paris in spring - what not to recommend. To cycle there makes it even sweeter. The French have created a lovely cycle route from Dieppe to Paris via old train tracks, rolling French fields and then into Paris via the parks. Best route to follow is one carved out by Donald Hirsch.
Best place to stay on first night is 23 Grand Rue where you will welcomed by Madeleine and Peter, and eat a wonderful meal loving cooked by Madeleine. Watch out though; Peter is a wine expert and if you share his knowledge too much, then there's a danger of not enjoying the next days cycling!
23 Grand Rue, Mesnières-en-Bray,Normandie 76270, France
+33 (0) 2 32 97 06 31
A beautiful castle, village, and forest just 40 minutes from the centre of Paris. There are loop walks around the forest starting from right by the train station, which give you an immediate sense of escape from the intensity of Paris. Then from there you can wander through the formal parkland towards the centre of the town. Plenty of restaurants offer lunch or dinner, or enormous ice creams and crepes. Then the chateau, the former country escape of French royalty, offers fine gardens, a large pond, grand rooms and plenty of history to explore.
Château de Fontainebleau, 77300 Fontainebleau
+33(0)1 60 71 50 70
Google map: bit.ly/QNMMyB
It's a hot summery day in Paris and all you want to do is soak up the sun and occasionally cool off. Oh, and experience what Parisians might be doing on a day like today. Oh, and you'll want somewhere tasty to refuel a litter later. And if you've got kids they need to enjoy it too. Well, try Piscine Josephine Baker, a swimming pool on a barge in the Seine. As if having a swimming pool on a barge in the Seine isn't cool enough, it also has a retractable roof to really make the most of summer days. And if that too isn't enough, the water for the pool comes from the Seine itself, is filtered for the pool, and then goes back into the Seine afterward. So it's really an eco pool!I wonder what Josephine would have made of it.
8 Quai François Mauriac 75013 Paris
+33(0)1 56 61 96 50
Google map: bit.ly/MfZIyb
I used to live in Paris, so felt I knew it quite well until I joined a Bike About Tours group for one of the most uplifting and interesting tours I have ever done. Bike About Tours was set up by two charming Kiwi ex-pats (both complete francophiles) whose mission is to show English speakers the real Paris. Most bike tours focus on the big tourist attractions, but at Bike About it is all about the lesser known charms of the City of Lights - quaint little side streets, the guides' favourite local bakeries, unexpected history lessons (like pointing out the mini cannon ball still stuck in the side of a church wall from Revolution days!) to name but a few. We even had exclusive access to a beautiful 'secret' courtyard garden that extended behind a building on one of Paris' more well known streets - I would have biked straight past it! In a couple of hours on this tour, I found out more about the character, history and charm of this amazing city and its unique inhabitants than in any of my classes at the Sorbonne.
Daily tour meeting point (10am and 3pm): by the statue of Charlemagne in the square outside Notre Dame cathedral.
When visiting Paris on a family holiday the ever popular and highly acclaimed Euro Disney is often the first place which springs to mind. There is however, an overlooked lesser-known hidden gem called Parc Asterix which is inspired by the iconic French comic series "The Adventures of Asterix". Much quieter than Euro Disney meaning less queuing and elbow prodding, a godsend to any parent who has has experienced hours of queuing with very grumpy, bored children! The children loved it, especially my eldest who found himself able to enjoy a much vaster selection of rides than in other parks, a result of less stringent height restrictions. We all thoroughly enjoyed the shows, the performing dolphins being a firm favourite.
My husband underwent a nostalgic journey in Galois Village enjoying all the characters displayed in such a vivid way.
Personally, I favour Parc Asterix very highly above the popular alternative. Quieter, cheaper and oozing character, with a unique quirkiness so often absent from the larger, highly commercialised amusement parks.
For those who want to indulge in a fun family day out and experience theme parks done the French way - Parc Asterix won't disappoint.
In the summer months in Paris, I enjoy nothing more than strolling up the canal Saint Martin to Parc de la Villette in the northeast of Paris. Here a giant inflatable screen that sways slightly in the evening breeze shows old films to anyone who cares to watch, both in English and French. What’s more, rather than just popcorn, you can bring a blanket with some cheese, bread, and wine and enjoy it with a proper Parisian picnic.
211, avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris, France
+33 1 40 03 75 75
Google map: bit.ly/JKOvSs
Enjoy an unrivalled view of the still magical Pompidou Centre from the cafes and wine bars opposite, as the external escalators whisk visitors to the top. Or people-watch the many hundreds who throng the square every day from the cobbled slope at one end, itself always packed with people of all nationalities. Better still, buy a baguette and sit on the edge of the pool in the adjacent place Igor Stavinsky and follow the progress of the zany, multi-coloured, mobile statues and fountains, all linked to works by Stravinsky, as they spray their water everywhere. Fun for the children and a delight for adults too.
Piazza and place Igor Stravinsky outside the Pompidou Centre in the Beaubourg.
Google map: bit.ly/NC8Tsg
From the Place de la Bastille walk east, climb an unpromising set of stairs and find yourself on an elevated walkway through the rooftops of Paris. This abandoned high level railway line has been planted with gardens and scattered with benches. Even greater than the delight of an unexpected green space in this quarter of Paris are views of balconies littered with bikes, chimneys with pretensions and teasing rooftop sculptures. A treat for a city voyeur in any season.
Walk a few metres SE from Place de la Bastille.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont is one of the more spectacular public gardens of Paris, perfect for a family adventure. An early example of successful land regeneration, it was sculpted from an abandoned quarry in the 1860s. The park is full of follies: an island, a lake, a grotto, waterfall and two bridges. But its pièce de résistance is the Romanesque gazebo set on top of a rocky crag. The grand view to Sacré Cœur across the rooftops of Paris is worth the steep climb.
1 Rue Manin, 75019 Paris, France
+33 1 42 08 08 37
Metro: Buttes Chaumont, Laumière or Botzaris
Opening times - All year, Daily, Open 9am to sunset
Admission - Free
Google map: bit.ly/KbEo8V
The largest memorial garden in the world is a beautiful backdrop for the oversized mausoleums and famous tombs packed together along its gravel and cobbled paths. But Père Lachaise is more than a repository for the crème de la crème. Throw the map away and wind aimlessly under the ancient chestnut trees of the well-tended park. Jim Morrison's grave is less interesting than the crowd round it, and the Holocaust and war memorials will give you pause.
Free maps are supplied at the gate
16, Rue de Repos, 20th Arrondisement, Paris
Métro: Père Lachaise Gambetta
Hours: 8:30am-6:00pm (last entry 15 minutes before closing)
Google map: bit.ly/KtQIFC
It is a disused elevated railway line that has been turned into a very attractive park. Reach it from a set of stone steps behind the Bastille Opera House and walk along it for as far as the Peripherique if you want. It is extremely relaxing, with trees, flowers, water features, benches and a big park half way along. There are lots of places to access street level for food, drinks and toilet stops.
Open from 7am to midnight, the 30 metre long swimming pool rue Pontoise is built like an art-déco ship with individual cabin for every swimmer. From 8pm onwards, the pool is lit from within while music blares out ...
I recommend Parc Asterix on the outskirts of Paris, just off Junction 7 of the A1 from Paris to Northern France and Calais. It was the best park we had visited in France, and that includes Disneyland Paris and Futuroscope. My family (two adults, three teenagers) thought it was brilliant - a great selection of rides that covered four different time zones in Asterix’s adventures. The rides vary from gentle to the terrifying (with lots of choice in between) and there lots of shows and animations too. The cafes are good, and there are shady places for picnics as well. It was quite easy to walk around – not too huge. We used Tesco vouchers for advance entry which helped our holiday budget, and have been twice now (2007 and 2009). Our accommodation was at a nearby Novotel (there are other chain hotels in the area) but there is public transport from Paris. For us it was a good couple of days on the end of our holiday, but could make a good mini break if you live in the south of England.
Just 45 minutes from Paris, La Mer de Sable is a great escape from the capital city.
Built on an incredible geological site - a perfectly natural expanse of sand - it was France's first theme park when it opened in 1963 but has truly survived the test of time. The best bit? No queues, cheap prices (14.90 EUR/day) and free parking.
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