Paris has so many gardens, you could have a whole trip to Paris devoted to visiting gardens and still not visit all of the gardens in Paris. As most garden lovers know, the four seasons allow a garden to show off all year long. Winter is a time for admiring the geometry, the bed design and the silhouettes. In spring, green sprouts are everywhere along with lots of flowers. Summer follows with verdant and lush carpets of grass and shady spots. Then, fall arrives and the leaves and long grasses get to have their time in the spotlight.
European formal garden design was perfected in Paris. The Italians may beg to differ, but who is known for formal gardens? Louis XIV, of course. But Versailles is only one, albeit enormous, example. There are gardens galore all over Paris and all over France. Look at a view of Paris from the sky and you can see huge green spaces to the west, to the east and dotting the area in between.
Here are a few gardens to consider seeing while in Paris. Schedule these during the week if possible. Otherwise, more people will share the space with you since workers are off and they want to enjoy the parks and gardens too. Remember one great perk is that many of these are free to access!
Paris Botanical Garden (Jardin des Plantes de Paris or Jardin des Plantes)
For nearly 400 years (since 1650), this garden has been open to the public. First begun in 1626 as a royal medicinal herb garden. It grew in to the botanical garden it is today with a floral gardens, unique plants, green houses, a maze and even an alpine garden. Now, the garden is a Historical Monument and main location of the National Museum of Natural History. The grand building in the back is the Grand Gallery of Evolution, a part of the Museum of Natural History. Entry to the green houses requires a ticket.
Bagatelle Park (Parc de Bagatelle)
This nearly 60 acre garden is located inside the Bois de Boulogne on the western outskirts of Paris. It contains a famous 10,000 bush rose garden, a Chinese-style pagoda, a small château, bridges, waterfalls, peacocks.… What else could royalty want in 1775? It also includes a charming gardener’s house with a vegetable garden.
It is a long and potentially confusing walk from the nearest Métro station. Taking a taxi is a good idea, but then you have to get one back. Take a look at e-hailing in Getting Around to return to your hotel.
Trocadéro Gardens (Jardins du Trocadéro)
So much is going on at this spot, you may not realize that you are here in one of the great gardens in Paris. Find the Jardins du Trocadéro across from the Eiffel Tower and at the foot of the twin flanks of the Palais de Chaillot. Interesting pathways, cannons of water shooting into a basin, stunning species plantings and, of course, manicured lawns. Also, this beautiful park offers some shade if you need get out of the sun while admiring the Eiffel Tower.
Vert-Galant Square (Le Square du Vert-Galant)
This small park is located at the western most point of Île de la Cité, the island where Notre-Dame is located. You will see it from many vantage points in Paris when you look down the Seine toward the Point Neuf. Where the bridge meets the island (from either side of the river), you will see a beautiful equestrian statue of Henry IV looking out across the little garden that is down a flight of stairs from street level. (Vert-Galant was a nickname of Henry IV.) Le Square du Vert-Galant has a small lawn, park benches, shady trees, and the river flowing by on both sides. Outside the garden, if you choose to go as near to the water as you can, a weeping willow signals the end of the island and a place to have a picnic. One of the most charming tiny gardens in Paris.
Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries or Tuileries)
This is the gigantic garden that you will probably see the most during your time in Paris. Mostly because it is centrally located in the middle of Paris along the Seine and between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. The Tuileries are an André Le Nôtre creation. He was commissioned in 1664 to redesign the gardens that for 100 year previously had been reserved for royalty. Then, Louis XIV opened the gardens to the public. Now, the gardens’ trees, lawns, flower beds, fountains and cafés are visited by many millions each year. Near the entrance at the Place de la Concorde, the Librairie du jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden Bookstore) specializes in garden books and gifts. Along with shade and flowers, the garden is home to the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Galérie Nationale Jeu de Paume. And, it is the venue for the annual Jardins, Jardin event.
Luxembourg Garden (Jardin du Luxembourg)
Begun in 1612 by Marie de Medici, the garden is extensive. Even a walk across it will give you a glimpse of fountains, statues, a children’s playground, towering trees, beautiful flower beds and the palace. Built in the early 1600s, the Luxembourg Palace (Palais du Luxembourg) now serves as the home of French Senate. Make sure to see the Medici Fountain (la fontaine Médicis) – an enchanting long pool with urns and garlands bordering the sides. During the summer, children’s boats compete for space on top of the water basins. They sail little wooden boats and operate motor boats by joystick. Among the throngs there are lots and lots of sun bathers.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
In 1864 Emperor Napoleon III commissioned this park that includes a lake and an island surmounted by a Roman-style temple to Sybil. Climb to the top for the view. And, on the way back down, you will go through a man-made grotto with a huge pump-operated waterfall. Paths lead through the hilly landscape that is in the style of Romantic English gardens. Fun handrails and shelters are decorated in fake wood (faux-bois) made from concrete to look like logs and branches. Also, the park has specimen trees throughout the landscape.
Palais Royal Garden (Jardin du Palais Royal)
Symmetry and elegance are the defining descriptions of this small-ish Paris garden not far from the Louvre. The garden fills the courtyard of the Royal Palace (Palais Royal) which in the 1600s housed royalty. Rows of trees form alleys that line both sides of the garden. In the middle of this elegant space is a large fountain. On either side of the fountain, and between the alleys of trees, two rectangular lawns are surrounded by beds of roses, flowers and flowering trees. Benches and chairs are plentiful. Grab one for enjoying the beauty or for having a snack or lunch.
Read more about Palais Royal Gardens (Jardin du Palais-Royal) here.
Champs-Élysées Gardens (Jardins des Champs-Élysées)
At the end of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, near the Place de la Concorde, beautiful gardens occupy both sides of the avenue. They are kind of quiet spaces between the hustle and bustle of the shopping avenue and the elongated roundabout of the Place de la Concorde. The Grand Palais and Petite Palais take up much of the river side of the avenue. But, find trees, flower beds and benches where you can take a break, rest, listen to a fountain, sit for a few minutes and enjoy the green space. Looking away from the river, you can see the giant walls along Avenue Gabriel that protect the U.S. Embassy, the British Embassy and the Élysée Palace (French president’s residence).
Monceau Park (Parc Monceau)
In 1778, the cousin of Louis XVI created an English garden on land he purchased in what is now the 8th arrondissement. You can find a pyramid, a colonnade, pathways, benches, plenty of shade and even a carousel. Parc Monceau is completely within a residential neighborhood, so it is quiet and restorative. The fabulous house museum, Musée Nassim de Camondo backs up to the park, as well as the Musée Cernuschi, the Museum of the Asian Arts of Paris.
Planted Walkway (La Promenade Plantée)
Leave it to the Parisians to invent an elevated, linear park. They turned an old, unused and deteriorating rail line, the Vincennes line, into a plant-filled and tree-lined park. The trail opened in 1993 and much of the nearly 3-mile length is above all the traffic. Other portions go through tunnels and spread out on the ground. Under the elevated portion, and accessible by stairs and elevators along the way, check out the fancy studios and galleries in the Viaduc des Arts. All combined, it is a lovely way to spend an afternoon walking and delighting in the city, then doing a little shopping afterward in the historic archways. If you are looking for it, you may also see the name, La Coulée verte René-Dumont.
Your Own Garden in Paris
These parks will delight you, but the one you may like most is a little pocket park you happen to discover on a walk. It may have a little bench or a chair or two so you can sit and rest for a few minutes, admire a couple of flowers and watch the passers-by. Even without knowing its name, it could be the one you remember most.