The beauty of Paris comes not only from the city’s landmarks and stately buildings, but also from its lush green parks and gardens. These gardens beckon to locals and visitors alike to sit and relax, rest those weary feet, forget the cares of the day, and enjoy the trees and brightly colored blooms. This being Paris, a palace may be nearby, and world-class sculptures often adorn the grounds. Ponds, lakes, and fountains add to the ambience.
Some of these gardens date back hundreds of years or feature close-up views of Paris landmarks. One is a botanical garden and gemology museum where scientists still study. And one of the most famous gardens of Paris can be found at the unparalleled Palace of Versailles.
Here are some of the most beautiful gardens in Paris. Be sure to add these to your list of must-see attractions on your next visit.
The lovely Luxembourg Gardens offer a green oasis in the middle of the city. You’ll find them along the border between the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Mingle with happy Parisians as you explore shaded paths, discover historic fountains and sculptures, walk across wide expanses of lawn, and claim a chair beside the pond. The gardens, complete with a palace, date to 1612. They were designed for Princess Marie de Medici, who became the Queen of France. The palace is now used by the French Senate.
French gardens and English gardens are set apart by a geometric forest. The flowers include orchids and roses as well as other seasonal blooms.
My favorite part of the Luxembourg Gardens is the toy boats. On weekends, children can sail colorful wooden boats in the pond. The young ones run around the water’s edge, chasing the boats and laughing. Watching them, you can’t help but smile.
The Luxembourg Gardens also boast more than 100 sculptures. You’ll even find a small-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty! Somehow, the friendly French folks took one look at us and knew we were American and that we should wind around the paths to see this. Since their directions were in French, we had to follow their waving arm signals and almost gave up. But rounding a bend under the trees, we finally found Lady Liberty herself. If you want to make new French friends, ask for directions and smile.
Other attractions include puppet shows, a playground for the young ones, and an apiary where you can learn about beekeeping.
And of course, you’ll find outdoor cafes where you can pick up a sandwich for lunch or order a coffee.
Pro Tip: You will notice green metal chairs in many of the gardens of Paris. These were designed by Fermob in 1923 for the Luxembourg Gardens. They are now a design icon of Paris. All the chairs I’ve seen in Paris are green, although the company sells the original design in 24 colors. Be sure to take the time to sit for a while in a Parisian garden to get a feel for the local life.
Located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries Garden is the most famous of the many parks in Paris. The name comes from the tile factories that occupied the area when Queen Catherine de Medici built her palace here in 1564. A hundred years later, King Louis XIV had his gardener redesign the gardens in their current French formal style.
As you stroll from the Louvre into the gardens, you’ll find two large ponds as well as several sculptures. A triumphal arch that looks much like Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate graces this garden.
Pause to sit a while in one of the green chairs scattered about, and maybe stop for a cold drink or snack at the little cafe. Visit the small museum of Monet’s paintings, the Orangerie, at one end of the gardens.
After you’ve sauntered through the Tuileries, you’ll emerge at the Place de la Concorde, the busy circle at the heart of Paris.
Would you like to lounge on a lawn with an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower directly in front of you? Then head to the Trocadero Gardens. This open space in Paris, located in the 16th arrondissement, stretches out from the banks of the Seine, with the iconic tower on the opposite bank. The 2 acres of gardens were created for the Paris Exposition of 1937. Twenty water cannons, known as the Warsaw Fountains, occupy the center and shoot out jets of water. The wings of the Palais de Chaillot gracefully curve around the edges of the Trocadero Gardens.
The terraced sides of the gardens are home to walnut trees and hazel trees. You’ll also find many sculptures, including animals in gilded bronze.
Champ De Mars Gardens
Opened in 1780, the park known as the Champ de Mars stretches from the Invalides to the Eiffel Tower. Pick up a baguette, a delicious packet of cheese, and a bottle of wine, and head here for lunch with an exquisite view.
This plot of land once served as a market garden for locals, who grew fruits, vegetables, and flowers there. The land was not especially fertile, though. So when the military school was built in 1765, the plains in front of the buildings were also developed into a garden. Workers leveled the ground, imported elms to line the long avenue, and enclosed the area with a grillwork fence.
One notable event that took place at the Champ de Mars was the launch of the world’s first hydrogen-filled balloon in 1783.
If you’re looking for a spot to view the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower as darkness falls, the Champ de Mars is perfect.
Jardin Des Plantes
The 68-acre Jardin des Plantes is more than a natural retreat in the city -- it is France’s main botanical garden. The 400-year-old Jardin des Plantes is known as the garden of science. Its plant collections allow scientists to study nature. Eleven different garden areas occupy the land. Here you can not only explore the flowers and trees, but you can also take a botany workshop. As you wander, you’ll discover a pistachio tree that is more than 300 years old. The greenhouses feature vibrant blooms, a tropical forest, and drought-tolerant plants.
Besides gardens, you’ll also find a small zoo and a mineralogy and geology gallery. The gem exhibits include giant crystals and the astounding Grand Sapphire of Louis XIV.
Place Des Vosges
This lovely park is small but so well loved that it must be included on any list of Paris gardens. The Place des Vosges is in the Marais district and is the oldest planned square in Paris. Red brick buildings border the lawns. Relax by the elegant stone fountains or wander down the shaded path lined with trees. Commissioned by King Henry IV in the early 17th century, the park once hosted nobility -- and duels. Today, locals flock here to escape city life in this peaceful park.
Take a walk around the perimeter of the park under the graceful arches. Victor Hugo lived in one of the surrounding residences and wrote part of his Les Misérables there. His home is open for tours. You’ll also want to visit a sidewalk cafe to enjoy a drink while watching people enjoying the gardens.
Gardens At The Palace Of Versailles
The formal gardens of the Palace of Versailles are pleasing to the eye with their symmetry and color. Tour the palace, and then step outside for fresh air and a wonderful view. There’s something satisfying about the rows of impeccably trimmed trees, and the swirls of flower beds and hedges invite you to enjoy nature.
The gardens of Versailles are worth a visit even if you don’t have time to see the palace. Almost 2,000 acres await. Stand just outside the buildings and look down past the Water Parterre with its two large pools to the far end of the canal.
King Louis XIV redesigned the landscape at the same time he updated the palace, beginning in 1661. The gardens took about 40 years to complete. Marshland was cleared, the canal was dug out, and trees were imported. Thousands of men, including entire French regiments, took part in this astounding project. Storms damaged the gardens in the late 1900s, but they have since been restored to their original glory.
The architect of the gardens, Andre Le Notre, studied the rules of perspective and painting, so he brought much more than a knowledge of gardening to the design. The king made it clear to Le Notre that the gardens should be a statement of his power. The grand finished gardens are breathtaking in their intricate layout and beauty.
Included along the paths are more than 200 sculptures made of bronze, lead, or marble. The gardens at Versailles are billed as the largest open-air sculpture museum in the world.
My favorite part of the property is the landscaped garden and hamlet near the Petit Trianon. Queen Marie Antoinette used this smaller building as an escape from life in the main palace. She commissioned a village and ornamental gardens in 1783 so that she could dress up as a commoner and mingle with the villagers. The hamlet is not just for show -- it is a working village with cottages, crops, and animals. When I last visited, a bumper crop of pumpkins covered a field, and baby goats romped on the farm.
For a good look at the gardens, take a bicycle tour of the grounds. Stop and lounge on the lawn at the far end of the canal and gaze back at the historic palace. You can cover more of the immense property on a bike!
The beautiful gardens found around Paris offer numerous green spaces for you to explore. Relax by historic fountains, sail a toy boat in a pond, admire gorgeous sculptures, and sip a coffee while sitting under shade trees. You won’t want to leave!