Paris is great. As you can tell by this site, we’re big fans. However, it is a dense city, and while this adds to the charm, it can get a little claustrophobic. Luckily, Paris has some 450 “green spaces”, this includes parks (16 total), gardens (123), squares (274), and woods (2). Most parks, gardens, and squares are delineated by high fences and gates. Meaning, these areas are very rarely accessible 24 hours a day.
Hours tend to go from 8 AM to 9 PM but vary depending on the place and the time of year (summer hours are usually longer). Remember, if you plan a picnic and want to bring some wine or beer, be aware that cops will occasionally conduct searches for container violations.
Sometimes a thermos can be your friend…
There are parks in just about every single arrondissement of Paris. Normally, parks differ from gardens and squares by their more “natural” look. In a park, you can usually sit on the grass, which isn’t always the case in the more formal squares and gardens. Parks tend to be pretty large, and when the weather is nice many a sunbather and a picnic-er can be found. Parks range in style from the hilly, 19th century romanticism of the Buttes Chaumont to the wide plains of the Parc de la Villette, you can check out a well sorted list of parks here or here
Public gardens came about in the early 19th century, as a public space to see and be seen. This is still the case today. Unlike parks, gardens tend to be more formal, often having gravel paths, benches and grass that is not to stepped on. Probably the Luxembourg gardens are the most prestigious and beautiful gardens in Paris. Go here or here for a list of gardens in Paris.
Squares tend to be very small, and there are many in every arrondissement. Often, squares have small play structures for children, and they’re a great place to get a breath of fresh air on the weekend. Click here or here for more information.
Paris has 2 large, beautiful woods: the Bois de Boulogne in the west and the Bois de Vincennes in the East. These two forests are beautiful, offering lakes, wooded trails, playgrounds and even a zoo for Parisians. Go to the woods for a day in the summer or take a walk when the leaves change in the fall. Go here or here to learn more.
To learn about tennis, swimming and free exercise options available in Paris, please see our “Gyms” section.
For all those Parisians who can’t leave the city in the summer, there is Paris Plage. Paris Plage recreates the beach and its many attractions along the Seine and the Bassin de la Villette. Every year, free concerts, sunbathing, swimming pools abound. Although it can get very crowded it can be lots of fun to check out, if anything for the people watching. Whereas banks of the Seine are always teeming with people, the Bassin de la Vilette tends to be a little less crowded, and the place for activities such as kayaking and paddleboating. Expect to be fleeced if you want to buy a soda or a snack.
A Guinguette is an outdoor dance hall and tavern located on the banks of the Marne and Seine rivers, outside of Paris. The guinguette reached the height of its popularity during the 19th century, where it was depicted in paintings such as Renoir’s Le déjeuner des canotiers. Although its numbers declined considerably into the 20th century, it has been making a comeback, and today has become a popular summer diversion.
The best known of the Guinguettes is the one located on a small island in the Marne, called La Guinguette de l’Île du Martin-Pêcheur. When it’s warm, go there to enjoy a drink and dancing outside surrounded by lanterns and accordion music. It’s a little corny, but you know you’ll love it.
Love it or hate it, you’ll probably end up going here at some point or another with a small child. Disneyland Paris is located in the eastern suburb of Marne la Vallée and is accessible by the RER A (stop: Marne-La-Vallée-Chessy). Although considerably smaller than Disneyworld, this European arm of the famed amusement park is Europe’s biggest tourist destination.