Paris is a beautiful city and being here is great. Becoming familiar with its streets, cafes, parks, and gardens is fun. However, one thing does bug me a little, and that’s the fact that there are very few parks where you can walk on the grass!
The public places of Paris are beautiful, that is without question, but they’re beautiful in part because nobody is allowed to walk on the carefully manicured grass. Even in this most beautiful of beautiful cities, I’m not alone in feeling the need to get some fresh air now and then. Sitting on the grass somewhere would be nice, of course, but finding grass to sit on in Paris is like trying to find parking – it’s impossible, and when you do there may be some bumping and barging involved!
Today I needed to walk on some grass without having to hide from a Park ranger or say “Excusez-moi” or “Pardon” to various bodies strewn before me on some publicly accessible lawn. So I made my way to the twelve arrondissements to the Bois de Vincennes, a park on the eastern edge of Paris in the twelve arrondissement (district).
Created between 1855 and 1866 by Emperor Napoleon III, the Bois de Vincennes is the largest public park in Paris and is known to some as the “lungs of the city.” Modeled in part on an English landscape garden, the park has four lakes, including the Lac Daumesnil upon which city escapees can slowly row boats past the Temple d’Amour (Temple of Love), a round Doric temple atop an artificial grotto. The park also has a zoo, an arboretum, a botanical garden, a horse-racing track, a velodrome, and even a large Buddhist temple complete with monks!
Today in the bright spring sun the colors of the blossom trees are striking against the green grass. The park is busy but not crowded. People are playing ball games, having picnics, snoozing in the sunshine, jogging, doing yoga, rowing boats, and of course, they’re walking on the grass.
Stand in the Bois de Vincennes yourself using using Google Street view.