Every time I go to Paris, I discover something new that makes me fall deeper in love with the city. This time we discovered Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, which is easily the best city park in Paris, and maybe in the world. Here’s why:
1. It’s Romantic
Parc de Buttes-Chaumont was built between 1864-1867 by order of Napoleon III, and it is oozing with Romanticism — in both the literary and modern senses of the word. The hills are beautifully sculpted, with sweeping views of the city and plenty of nooks and crannies to steal a quick kiss.
2. There’s an island with a Greek temple high on a cliff
At the heart of the park is a tall island jutting forth from a large man-made lake filled with giant fish swimming around in peaceful zigzags. The island’s sheer cliffs allude to the park’s former use as a gypsum quarry. Impossibly perched at the peak of the island is a classical-greek-styled open-air rotunda. It is breathtaking.
3. It has cool bridges
The island can be accessed on either side by bridges. The first bridge feels industrial — it’s a long suspension bridge that was designed by Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame. It gently rolls and sways under the pressure of kids excitedly running and jumping on it, but otherwise hardly budges when simply walking. The arched bridge on the other side of the island is made of stone and brick, and is short and very high up. It looks like something out of a Disney princess castle sitting above the serene lake below.
4. There are caves and waterfalls
A trail leading from the top of the island down to its base circles in and out of manmade caves. The caves have cement stalactites hanging high above. In the 1800s, this neighborhood in Paris was very poor, and people used to take shelter in the then much-smaller hollows. Now a 90 ft manmade waterfall plunges from high above the island down into the largest cave creating a grotto.
— Laura Rowley
* Parts of the park will be closed for renovation and construction through 2016. While we were there in May 2015 access to the rotunda and caves were restricted.