Pere Lachaise Cemetery is a quiet serene affair in the east. Famous graves include Jim Morrison of the Doors, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and Playwright Moliere. It's a tranquil, beautifully manicured setting with graves running along avenues creating a peaceful village of the dead; certainly worthy of a visit. Maps are available so you can best find the gravestones that interest you and best of all entry is entirely free.
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.
A modern park on the banks of the Seine constructed on the site of the old Citroen factory.
The features include sunken colour-themed gardens having their own microclimate - wonderful in the winter sun. There is a large fountain area (loved by the children), modern greenhouses and plenty of quiet areas to read,relax or sunbathe. For the more adventurous there is a tethered balloon giving superb views over the city.
Plenty of bars and cafés in Rue St Charles and Balard.
15e Arrondissement, 75015 Paris, France
+33 1 40 71 75 60
Google map: bit.ly/JZO8rY
If you want to spend time outdoors in Paris, you can't go far wrong with some lounging in the sun along the Canal St Martin. Hang out with the beautiful young things along the cobbled walkways next to the water and admire the green wrought iron swing bridges as the boats go past, or take a turn with a promenade around the quartier surrounding the Rue de Lancry. The boulangerie Du Pain et des Idées (open Mon-Fri) on Rue Yves Toudic has delicious picnic fare, and if you want a post-fun apéritif the Verre Volé wine bar on the Rue de Lancry serves delicious wine and light bites, or Chez Prune café on the Quai de Jemmapes by the canal's edge is great for people watching.
Canal St Martin, 10th arrondissement
Google map: bit.ly/MhEIre
A river island at the city limits, L'Ile de La Jatte offers memorable, tapering views of Paris along the length of the Seine. The island's park, famously painted by Georges Seurat, is also the location of 27 beehives, whose occupants harvest pollen from the city's flowers. The park is used appreciatively by the island's residents, but in our experience, they struggle to fill it, leaving plenty of room for visitors to relax or play. The handful of local eateries aren't great value, though tables over-looking the river will excuse the price to some. But the views that justified the trip for us were from the footpath that encircles the island, particularly at its most northerly point.
Metro station: Ponte de Levallois-Becon
Google map: bit.ly/Lq9UzN
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
Grab a bottle of something red or even sparkling from an off-licence and head down to the Seine. In the summer you will see lots of locals just sitting and sipping along the river banks. There is nothing more relaxing than joining them, watching the world go by.
Almost anywhere along the stretch of the Seine between Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.
Just walked hours from Le Louvre to the Arc of Triumph and looking for some respite far from the maddening crowd? Look no further. All you need is a love for Japan and its wondrous wagashi pastries. Toraya, a stone throw from Concorde square, is this very quiet and authentic Japanese salon de thé where you’ll be able to taste green tea-hot chocolate and restore your natural zen.
Can't believe this hasn't been recommended? Perhaps it's because most people that post here are tourists! [ouch - editor] Anyway Bois de Vincennes. Great park in the east, busy when the sun shines but massive enough to get lost in/find a quiet spot. Also next door to the aquarium and the Museum of Immigration.
Last summer in early July my 11-year-old son and I spent a week in Paris. Apart from the exhilaration at the top of the Eiffel Tower and the flypast on the Champs Elysees on Bastille Day, an unexpected highlight was the Parc Floral on a hot sunny day with water lillies to astound and impress even a pre-teen and the Mini-Golf des Monuments de Paris -some already visited and some yet to be seen- with not another tourist in sight.
Parc Monceau in Paris is quieter and less touristy than the city’s main parks, and well worth a visit if you’re up for seeing a slice of real Parisian life.
As well as large green spaces, the park boasts attractive shady walkways plus a number of interesting features such as mock Roman ruins that wind tastefully around a small lake, several statues, and an 18th-century rotunda – which is also a handy public toilet.
Once inside the spectacular iron gates, you’ll see locals strolling along, walking their dogs, enjoying an ice-cream (on sale within the park) or draping themselves over the park’s extensive grassy lawns. There’s also a playground for children and plenty of room for a decent jog.
It really is a pleasant place to while away a couple of hours, especially in the summer – and the 17th arrondissement (immediately north of the park) is great for an idle wander too.
Location: 8th arrondissement
Metro: Monceau on Line 2 (the dark blue one) or Villiers on Line 3
Google maps: bit.ly/hptxgw
A replica of the American Statue of Liberty that was gifted to the Parisians in 1885. It faces west towards the original in New York.
To reach the statue you have to walk down an island walkway called Alles des Cygnes. This is a wonderful walkway with the busy Seine on either side. It is enveloped by hanging trees and is a very tranquil place. There are also many benches to sit on and relax. Its only a 15 minute walk from the madness and bustle of the Eiffel Tower but it could be a million miles away.
Pont de Grenelle, 75015 Paris, France
Google map: bit.ly/l13Egm
Boulogne is right on the edge of the 'true' Paris, bordering the 16th arrondissement. It's very easy to reach by the usual Paris buses and trains, and offers a welcome escape from the usual city noise and masses. It's in a nice trouble-free area, where you can relax on grass fields. There are sightings of kingfishers, and in one of the ponds live terrapins and coypu, which is fun for both adults and children.
3, rue des Victoires
If you’re heading east from Paris and you’ve got some time to kill, there’s a quiet little park hidden away about 20m from the Gare de l’Est, but not that easy to find.
Stand with your back to the station and head down the road on the left, to the corner. Look for a green metal gate down the side of the rather imposing stone building. It leads into a small ornamental park with a great kids’ playground, and public toilets and baby change on the far side of the park.
Paris' constant drone of traffic noise can be wearying for the footsore tourist, but if you are near to the Opera Bastille you can make an instant escape by walking up a few steps on to the Promenade Plantee.
This little heaven away from the roar of the big city is actually a reclaimed elevated railway line, 4.5km long and planted with thousands of gorgeous flowers and shrubs. Instant relaxation guaranteed, instant slowing down of pulse, and another - somewhat secret - addition to this wonderful city's delights.
If you are tired of traipsing around the Louvre and Quai d'Orsay head for the Rodin museum and garden.
Have a good look around the main house museum then head out to the lovely gardens. At the very bottom you will find some shaded sun loungers where you can catch your breath and even be sketched by the life drawing class that goes there most afternoons.
One lesser-known museum that was very enjoyable was the café in the Musee Jacquemart André, the café is a wonderfully elegant old-style tea room which had everything we don’t have in the U.K. Great gateaux, various delicious teas and coffees, a stunning Teipolo ceiling, polite service, watch out also for the muted conversation, maybe because it’s a museum!
There were also free activities for the kids, the best bit being that they had period costumes the kids could dress up in and then a large frame you could take photos of them in, all in a French aristocratic style.
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