The Best Parks and Gardens Outside of Paris
I adore Paris, but at times I relate to overwhelmed tourists who simply need a day or two outside of the central chaos. One gets to a point where even the parks and gardens in the city are headache inducing, and real solace is what the soul is craving on a tangible level.
When this happens, it’s best to more outward. There are a handful of wonderful parks and gardens in the surrounding districts to Paris, that don’t necessarily qualify as part of the city center.
Many are reachable by metro, bus or car, and make for somewhat of a light day-trip where one can really enjoy suburban France from a newfound perspective. Here are some of my favorite spots:
Bois de Vincennes
Yes, the Bois de Vincennes is on every “Best Parks in Paris” list, but it’s technically not within central Paris at all. These grounds fall on the southeastern boundary of the city, and extend long and deep into the surrounding suburban neighborhoods.
You can start your visit in the Bois de Vincennes while still “in Paris”, and make your way all the way to the Champigny-sur Marne district before the end of the day.
This is a glorious park space; one that was originally a royal hunting ground back in the day. There are lakes, sculptures, monuments and many different activities to enjoy. This also happens to be the home of the Paris Zoo, so if you have children with you then I’d recommend a visit.
Georges-Valbon State Park
Up north we come to the district of Saint Denis, and here there is a spectacular public park ground called the Georges-Valbon State Park.
This is over 400 hectares of perfectly manicured green space built on wetlands. Consequently, the biodiversity here is rich and thriving, and a lot of people come to watch for birds. There are over 44 different bird species living on this land; any watchers dream!
If birds aren’t your thing, how do some waterfalls sound? The rugged terrain near the lakes makes for tumbling natural features and gorgeous nooks where one can spend the day delving deep into a novel.
In the spring, the tress blossom like something out of a Japanese garden. Many regard Georges-Valbon State Park as one of the most beautiful parks in all of France.
Forêt domaniale de Meudon
Just outside of southwestern Paris is a national forest called Forêt domaniale de Meudon.
If you are a lover of nature in its rawest and finest state, then this is the park ground for you. These woods span over 2 departments and 5 different municipalities; you can walk and walk and walk until the bustle of Paris feels like little more than someone else’s bad dream.
Here, there are 5 lakes from which you can bask in some very special views. You can even see the Eiffel Tower from certain points in the forest.
If peace is what you’re looking for, I would recommend this park above all else.
If you were to walk directly west from the Eiffel Tower, you’d eventually come to the Malmaison Forest. This is 200 hectares of sheer bliss.
Majestic takes on a new suburban definition in this little piece of heaven. It’s the perfect escape if you don’t want to venture too far out of the city, but want to feel like you’ve been far and wide, the Malmaison Forest can give you that experience.
The huge oak trees draw in photography enthusiasts from all over Paris. There are also gorgeous lakes and colorful blossoms throughout the summer months. Locals to the area love it here, and the park is always filled with families. I recommend bringing a picnic.
Parc de Choisy Paris Val De Marne
The Val de Marne neighborhood in general is a great day out of the city if you want to connect to outlying Paris. There’s a lot to do here, and there is a thriving fine dining scene that locals hold near and dear.
This park is in Val de Marne, and is built on the banks of the Marne river. This means fishing, playgrounds, and a lot of places to lounge.
Sports lovers can take advantages of the public tennis, football and rugby facilities. There is also a well-equipped playground for children. Note that dogs are allowed here provided they are kept on a leash at all times.