Sep 20th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Let’s Take a Walk, Senior Citizens

Paris is known for its many elegant parks, but the city boasts a large number of very diverse parks. While some date back to the 17th century, many modern parks have been created in the last couple of decades. Even though Paris has a dense urban structure, the city boasts more than 400 parks, favorite haunts of senior citizens.

When I spent a year living in France as a graduate student studying French Culture and Civilization at the Sorbonne, my wife and two small children I used to head for the park on a regular basis. If you’re heading to Paris on a romantic getaway for two, the chances are you’ll be looking for a few activities that will make your trip truly special, and nothing could be more special than spending some time in solitude, strolling through a beautiful Parisian park surrounded by flowers and gorgeous scenery.

Paris’ parks and gardens have long been a source of inspiration. It would be difficult for me to choose just one favorite over the other as each is unique and is loaded with French ambiance.

Parks and Gardens of Paris Awaiting Senior Visitors

Le “Bois” (Paris 16e)
The city’s most legendary and largest park, known to Parisians as “Le Bois”, was landscaped into an upper-class playground by Baron Haussmann in the 1850s, using London’s Hyde Park as his model. Formerly a royal forest and hunting ground, this vast 2200-acre reserve is crisscrossed by broad, leafy roads, home to rowers, joggers, strollers, bicyclists, games of pétanque (or boules), picknickers, and lovers.

My wife and I still recall Le Bois de Vincennes.  Our son John, age five, fell into the pond here trying to feed ducks.  Fortunately the water was only a foot or two deep but he was quite chilled taking the Métro back to our small apartment in the 11e arrondissement. This park is called Paris’ Lungs.

Le Jardin et Palais du Luxembourg
Close to the Sorbonne is the Jardin et Palais du Luxembourg that is always heavily filled with French folks who just love to sit on a park bench and watch others passing by. This park just south of the Latin Quarter, the Jardin du Luxembourg (60 acres) is one of Paris’ most beloved parks, offering a myriad of fountains, statues of queens and poets, as well as tennis courts and spaces for playing boules. Children enjoy its parc à jeux (playground) and the théâtre des marionettes (puppet theater).

The Tuileries Garden
This famous park faces the Louvre and is across from the Place de la Concorde.  “Tuile” in French means tile and the old tile factories were located here. The Tuileries is Paris’ oldest and most lavish garden. Its royal roots stretch to the 16th century, when Marie de Medicis commissioned a palace behind the Louvre. Henry IV and Louis XIV would pursue construction and the palace housed the last monarchs of France, until it was burned down in 1871. The elaborate royal gardens remained.

Parc Monceau
While this park is not well known, it brings back memories to me.   We were “fined” by a Métro agent who insisted that I did not purchase enough tickets for the ride to the park from our quarter.  I did not have the money on me and simply gave him all the tickets I had left in my pocket.  He was not happy but he insisted that since I spoke “good french” that I should have known better. Probably so, but with two small children with me, he gave in. Monceau is a favorite haunt where Marcel Proust used to stroll.

Places des Vosges
Perhaps my favorite has to be the Places des Vosges.   I spent lots of time here in the Musée de Victor Hugo when I was writing my MS thesis on his book Notre-Dame de Paris.  Located in the historical Marais neighborhood, Place des Vosges is planted with linden trees and the lawns  are criss-crossed by symmetrical paths. All four sides of the square are red brick and have been tuck pointed and look quite new.  There is a lot of history here with a nice statue of Louis XIII mounted on a huge horse right in the center of the Place.

When your feet need a break from exploring Paris’ museums, monuments and shops, it is nice to know that within this vast urban centre are some peaceful parks where you can sit and relax for as long as you like. It’s easy in Paris to simple stroll around, pick up a picnic at any small bakery, and then find a green space where you can relax. Well, I could go on and on but I will leave it up to you to take in Paris and to find a park that you will love just as we did. Here are the Top Ten parks in Paris.  Amusez-vous bien ici. jeb

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