Parc des Buttes Chaumont: A breath of fresh (and free) air in Paris
It’s summer in Paris, and what better way to enjoy the warm breeze than a picnic in the park? When one thinks of parks in Paris, Champ de Mars is often the traveler’s favorite. It’s the long stretch of grass surrounding the Eiffel Tower… you know, the iconic spot that’s probably in your Paris daydreams. Unfortunately, this park is quite crowded during warm weather, and you won’t exactly feel at one with nature beside all the food and street vendors.
But a relaxing oasis is still within your reach, because I’d like to draw your attention to what is, in my humble opinion, the best park in Paris. Parc des Buttes Chaumont is situated in the 19th arrondissement and is one of the largest green spaces in the whole city. It is a refreshing change from the other main parks in central Paris with their perfectly manicured lawns and dusty paths (looking at you, Jardin de Luxembourg), because it is quite rustic and unrefined. Buttes Chaumont is centered around a large lake that surrounds Île de la Belvédère, a tiny island made of rocks with stairs leading up to a beautiful temple structure. Around the lake, you’ll find grassy knolls and hilly spots which give the perfect view of Paris.
Related: Our 7 favorite parks in Paris
If you’re willing to make the trek out to the 19th (which can be quite pleasant, I will add, on bicycle), here’s what Parc des Buttes Chaumont has in store for you:
The scenic waterfall. Photo: Darek Rusin
What used to be an old gypsum and limestone quarry has been transformed into a staggering grotto on the south side of the park. Running through is a waterfall that leads back to the lake. Take a break from your picnic in the sun to explore this enchanting shady spot!
If you’d like to visit the island, you can take impressive the 63-meter suspension bridge over the lake, which was designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont was commissioned by Napoleon III as a place to showcase a variety of flora, and this rings true still today. Take a walk around and you’ll find almost 50 different species of trees!
It’s worth the climb for a stunning view of Sacre Coeur. Photo: Ahmad Tarek
Not only do the grassy hills of the park give a wonderful glimpse of the city, but if you climb the stone steps to the top of Île de la Belvédère, you’ll find a beautiful, unhindered and unique view of Paris. From the Temple de la Sibylle, you can see a view of Northern Paris, with the Sacre Coeur as the centerpiece. I highly recommend doing so as the sun sets, so you can see all the lights of the city begin to glimmer.
Nestled into the hills of Parc des Buttes Chaumont is Rosa Bonheur, a casual, hip bar and restaurant envisioned as a modern-day guinguette. Grab a €3.50 euro pint and some tapas, and take a seat under the sparkling lampion lights hanging tree to tree. The ambiance is distinctly Parisian without a hint of tackiness. You might want to try and arrive before 8 PM to avoid the crowds, though!
The suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel. Photo: Henk van der Eijk
Parc des Buttes Chaumont is the ideal setting for a family. If your kids aren’t already impressed by the view from the temple or the grotto, they’ll love the park’s very own puppet theater, which hosts shows from the end of April through October. There is also a playground atop the hill to keep them occupied!
Parc des Buttes Chaumont1 Rue Botzaris19th Arrondissement+33 1 44 52 29 19Metro: Botzaris or Buttes Chaumont
Related: Cheap hotels in northeastern Paris