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
In this sunken outdoor courtyard, you can bask in the Parisian sunshine and drink refreshing mint tea whilst admiring the Morrocan tiling that surrounds you. The constant stream of birds sweeping through and landing on the tree growing in the centre of the courtyard will make you feel as though you have discovered a secret piece of tranquil Marrakesh in the middle of Paris. I'm 16, and I would recommend this for a family outdoor trip in Paris.
Opened in 1992, one of the world’s finest post modernist public parks was built on 24 hectares of the site of the old Citroen factory. In the vast central area there are two enormous modern green houses, acres of grass, a large longitudinal mirror pool, complemented by a water feature of dancing jets rising from the paving, six themed gardens and blocks of enormous magnolias all contribute to a great place for a picnic, relaxation and passive enjoyment.
My favourite area is the White Garden easily accessed from the Balard Metro Station and comprises of walled multilevel pocket gardens connected by raised and sunken walk ways. Filled with perennials each garden is themed with plenty of seating and there is a children’s play area in the centre of them all.
Open everyday and free.
15e Arrondissement, 75015 Paris, France
+33 1 40 71 75 60
Google map: bit.ly/JKMm9e
With warm weather comes the opportunity to partake in the favourite past time of many Parisians: le pique-nique. The possibilities for picnics in Paris are endless, though my favourite spot is the Pont des Arts. This pedestrian bridge stretching out over the Seine from the Louvre is a perfect place to join the families, friends and lovers for an impromptu picnic; bunched on blankets laid across the wooden slats, while the sun sets behind the Eiffel Tower further down the river. Free of traffic, you can enjoy your picnic to the sound-track of the gentle hum of boats and barges that pass beneath and the the soft ripples of the river lapping the banks below.
Pont Des Arts. Metro: Pont neuf (line 7)
Google map: bit.ly/LwX98t
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
It is almost that time of year again for barge loads of sand to float down the Seine and transform the riverbanks of Paris into an urban beach. Beginning on the 20th July and lasting for one month, the Paris Plage offers the complete beach experience … almost. The creators don’t seem to be fazed by the lack of sea as they put together what could be best described as a caricature of a beach, complete with palm trees, over-sized deck chairs, ice-cream sellers and beach volleyball. The latest addition to the beach at Bassin de la Villette offers free pedalos and rowing boats from which you can float along and enjoy the games of pétanque, giant sand castles, free concerts, and everything else that’s going on beside the Seine-side, beside the Seine!
Pont Neuf to Hotel de Ville (right bank of the Seine), Bassin de la Villette
Google map: bit.ly/LwXCYr
A great way to discover Paris and some of its most famous landmarks, such as Notre Dame, the Louvre Museum, la Sainte Chapelle, and the Eiffel Tower, plus the 17 bridges across the River Seine. The guides are locals who love their city and have many stories and historic information to share in a very entertaining way, even for children. Luckily they are fluent English speakers who are happy to answer any questions and organise the tour as you wish. After a highly enjoyable walking tour they take you on an absolutely wonderful boat cruise all around the River Seine. After this four hour tour you truly feel very welcome in the city!
+33 (0)970 449 724
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
Paris parks, gardens and squares and their surroundings are the best way of tracing the city’s social and architectural history while providing variety and interest. Older, more formally designed parks tell of Paris’s wealth or otherwise and more recent parks have been created on former railway lines, abbatoirs and car works. Look out for fantastic statuary, false cliffs, magnificent trees, beehives, original children’s play areas, cafés, fountains, and small allotments. There’s plenty of seating and wi-fi if you need them! Take Lonely Planet’s Paris Nature by Lisa Garnier and Nassera Zaid (in French).
One of the best yet reasonably priced Italian restaurants in Paris. Great pizzas and even better pasta with traditional Sicilian sauces, always a feast for the eyes and palate. The service is absolutely wonderful and the atmosphere warm and unpretentious.
138 rue de Vaugirard 75015 Paris
+33(0)1 47 83 37 28
Google map: bit.ly/JW8VZZ
Wonderful quirky tea room in Le Marais, famous for its sinful cakes and original, flea-market style furniture. Definitely worth a visit if you're around this trendy neighbourhood in Paris.
3, Rue des Rosiers - 75004 Paris
+33 1 42 72 90 61
Metro station St Paul, line 1
Google map: bit.ly/L7yTgN
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
Walk through historic Le Marais, the most "branché" neighbourhood of Paris, to the supremely elegant Place des Vosges. Victor Hugo was inspired by what he saw from his window at number six, which is now a museum to the great author. The red bricks, natural stone and grey slate mansard roofs of the perfectly proportioned square are best appreciated from its pretty park. Picnic on baguettes by the fountains and trees, while the kids play in the sandpit. But don't sit on the lawns if the "pelouse au repos" signs are out.
Maison de Victor Hugo, 6 Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris
+33 1 42 72 10 16
Google map: bit.ly/L4Ikxt
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.
After a summer's morning walking the streets of Paris this cafe is a real find. Part of the Mosquee de Paris, it is tucked away in a tranquil, shaded courtyard. Waiters bring trays of perfect mint tea and sweet pastries and you can while away the time admiring the ripening figs overhead. Once refreshed you can take a stroll around the nearby Jardin de Plantes, Paris's beautitful old botanical gardens.
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.
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