Green spaces in southern Paris

A romantic park, a botanical garden, islands offering leisure activities: head south to relax amid nature

Must-see gardens

Parc Montsouris in the 14th arrondissement was created during the Second Empire over the former quarries of Montrouge. This charming, steeply sloping garden in the English style has century-old trees, swans and wild ducks gliding over the surface of a lake, a host of statues, a music kiosk and play areas for children (with swings and pony rides). It is also home to a weather station.

The nearby Cité internationale universitaire de Paris is set in a 34-hectare park: a favourite spot for the international students at the Cité to relax and enjoy leisure activities.

As to contemporary gardens, the Parc André Citroën (15th), which opened in 1992, extends over a 14-hectare area. It is divided into three parts: the thickly planted Jardin Eugénie-Djendi, the large central area of the park with its sprawling lawns, and the Jardin Caroline-Aigle with its paths and play areas.

The former slaughterhouses of Vaugirard were converted in the 1980s into the Parc Georges Brassens. The 8.7-hectare park boasts a river, a pond and a panoramic viewpoint. Must-sees: the Clos des Morillons vineyard, the fragrance garden, the medicinal herb garden and the apiary.

The Domaine départemental de Sceaux, designed by Le Nôtre in the 17th century, offers such delights as ponds, canals, sweeping perspectives, terraces, waterfalls, statues and parterres filled with plantings in intricate embroidery patterns. This enormous 9-hectare park is a wonderful place to relax amid nature or to take a brisk walk in the fresh air. The estate also has vast expanses of woodland and grassy plains.

For an outing combining culture and nature, there is no better place than the Domaine départemental de la Vallée-aux-Loups - Maison de Chateaubriand in Châtenay-Malabry. Located in the Hauts-de-Seine département, it is a textbook example of the way natural and cultural heritage can blend perfectly. The woodland park, the Ile Verte, the Arboretum paysager hosting a unique collection of plants, and the home of the writer François-René de Chateaubriand form a harmonious whole bringing together past and present, the natural and the manmade.

Botanical gardens

If you are a rose lover, then you cannot under any circumstances miss out on a visit to the Roseraie du Val-de-Marne in the town of L’Haÿ-les-Roses. The world’s first-ever garden to be entirely devoted to roses, it extends over a 1.5-hectare area and comprises 13 collections: wild and cultivated roses, old and modern roses, French and international varieties. In all, more than 11,000 roses (2,900 different species and varieties) are on display here. A must-see!

Green spaces where you can play sport

In the mood to head outdoors and play some sport? Green spaces in Greater Paris are the best places for it. Some of them are entirely given over to sport, like the Ile de loisirs de Créteil. Boasting a 41-hectare lake, it is the ideal place for walks and cycle rides and water-based activities (sailing, windsurfing and canoeing). In the summertime, you can also enjoy a swim in the wave pool, or head to the play areas.

The Parc des sports de Choisy is a vast 160-hectare expanse with many areas where you can relax, and all kinds of family-focused sporting activities.

A walk in the woods

The ‘green lung’ of southern Paris, the Forêt domaniale de Meudon extends over 1,100 hectares of hilly landscape. Seven large ponds in different parts of the forest give it a character all its own. The forest is home to a remarkable variety of flora and fauna.

Unusual green spaces

The Jardin Atlantique (15th), which was built above the Gare Montparnasse, is an unusual place for a walk. And though not many people know it, the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain (14th) also houses an urban garden. Designed by the German artist Lothar Baumgarten, Theatrum Botanicum is not a traditional garden, but rather a commissioned work offering visitors a spectacle of nature that is both calculated and wild.