The 19th arrondissement is certainly a popular neighborhood in Paris, and why not? It has beautiful green spaces, heaps of culture, and great hangout spots. All in all, a perfect place to spend time while visiting Paris. The proverbial cherry on the green space cake? A charming hilly park named Parc des Buttes Chaumont.
The park is an oasis of lush greenery with a waterfall, a grotto, and a Roman-style monument. Often overlooked due to more popular attractions like the Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg, the Parc des Buttes Chaumont is well worth a visit for a picnic in the summer or a picturesque stroll on the weekends.
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A brief history of Parc des Buttes Chaumont
The Parc des Buttes Chaumont was constructed during the reign of Napoleon III and was opened to the public in 1867. It is the fifth-largest park in Paris. It was named after a bare hill that once stood in its place (chauve-mont).
While the park is beautiful and scenic today, it has gruesome beginnings. In the olden days, the plot where the park stands today was a disposal area for sewage and carcasses of horses. Between the Canal St Martin and Buttes Chaumont was the Gibbet of Montfaucon, the main gallows used to hang criminals and display their bodies to the public in the 1800s. Before then, until the 16th century, the area was well-known for the quarries of gypsum and limestone.
In 1860, Napoleon III decided to transform the area into a spectacular garden and thus began the landscaping by the engineer and designer, Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand who had also created Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes. Alphand brought in English-style garden elements and typical 19th-century architecture to the garden. The park was opened just in time for the Universal Exhibition of Paris.
The park is also home to the Petite Ceinture, the long-forgotten Napoleonic railway line constructed in 1862. The tracks loop around the inside of Paris and were used to transport passengers and goods. The line was shut down and replaced by the metro in 1934 but the tracks stand today. This area of Buttes Chaumont is closed off to the public but for the adventurous souls out there, there is a hole in the fence that leads you to the tracks and all the secrets it holds within its tunnels.
Why do people like going to Buttes Chaumont?
Parc Buttes Chaumont is a magnificent garden and gets more charming the more you explore. What makes the garden so fascinating is the architectural feat of the 19th century and the sheer beauty of the garden elements. And to top it off, Buttes Chaumont is a park for the people.
The garden has an abundance of green grass that can be accessed by the public. It is an excellent location for picnics and outdoor gatherings in the warmer months. With dozens of water fountains, a couple of eateries, and endless possibilities for exploring, jogging, walking, and playing, the park is worth a visit despite its not-so-central location.
The Lake and the Bridges
The center of the park has an artificial lake that is home to many birds and animals throughout the year. The lake wraps around a hilly central island and attracts waterfowl, fish, and dozens of wildlife that are studied by students and researchers.
In the spring, you can also spot some cherry blossoms and heaps of spring blooms. The park has a bunch of bridges, the best of which is a suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel himself.
Temple de la Sybille
Temple de la Sybille, based on the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy, is a Roman-style monument built on a man-made cliff. It has its little island in the lake and can be accessed by two bridges. The cliff that it stands on was created by dumping topsoil to fill up the holes left by the quarry, along with some dynamites and explosives to give it its ragged shape. The temple offers gorgeous views of Montmartre and the cupolas of Sacre Coeur.
If you are a fan of the Netflix series Lupin, then you will be interested to know that the temple was featured in a few episodes of season 2.
Waterfall and the Secret Grotto
The hill also has a 65-feet tall cavern which was turned into a grotto by the builders. It rises out of the former quarry and remains somewhat hidden from the rest of the park. Along with artificial stalactites, shadows and light, it also has its artificial waterfall, adding to the magical charm of the place.
What’s in and Around Buttes Chaumont?
The Buttes Chaumont garden is a massive place to take in itself but its surrounding neighborhood is also something to see. The 19th Arrondissement is filled with beautiful open-air hangout spots, cultural spaces, and green parks. There is something to do around every corner.
- Rosa Bonheur: A cute open-air bistro in Buttes Chaumont, Rosa Bonheur hosts thematic evenings with cinema, songs, sports, and music.
- Le Pavillon du Lac: A contemporary eatery with a ‘countryside’ vibe and fancy food located on the east of the lake.
- Pavillon Puebla: Located in a 19th-century house, this cute eatery has two terraces and dance floors and Italian-inspired cuisine. (There is also a Foto Automat vintage photo booth here.)
- Parc des Buttes Chaumont Carrousel: Unlike other charming carousels of the capital, the Buttes Chaumont merry-go-round is a hexagonal ride with a grey marquee and an incoherent selection of animals and rides. Consisting of a pink Harley Davidson, a pirate ship, a flying saucer, and a fire engine along with a goldfish and a yellow duck, this second-most modern and cheerful ride is hidden in the dense thicket of the park. (See all the carousels in Paris here)
- La Petite Ceinture: Paris’ abandoned railway tracks can be reached through a hole in the fence near the garden. The tunnels here are fantastic to explore the Paris Underground system.
- La Mouzaïa: Explore the countryside in the middle of the city with this neighborhood filled with villas and paved paths. The district takes over the olfactory senses in the spring with the blossoming of rose, lilac, and honeysuckles around every corner.
- Le Plateau – Exhibition center: A contemporary space focusing on modern art, dance, and music for the general public. It holds temporary exhibitions and ensures new talent is always highlighted.
- La Villette: Parc de la Villette, with its green spaces and the Canal Ourcq, is within walking distance from Buttes Chaumont. It has exhibition halls, plenty of open-air spaces, and a playing area for kids.
- Bassin de la Villette: This rectangular man-made pond is a beautiful place for concerts, movies, festivals, and boat rides in summer.
- Canal Ourcq: Ourcq is a wonderful neighborhood for a walk along the canal, breweries on the Quai, and colorful graffiti on walls all around. You can also rent a boat and have a picnic on the water.
- Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie: The biggest science museum in Europe, the Cité has a planetarium and scientifically engaging exhibits.
- Musée de la Musique: Right in the Parc de la Villete, the Music Museum has over 1,000 vintage instruments of western music.
- Philharmonie de Paris: Housed in a spectacular structure is the largest symphony hall. The beautiful, shiny exterior has around 340,000 images of birds etched on the surface.
- Conservatoire de Paris: The most prestigious school of music, dance, and drama is also located in La Villette next to the Philharmonie and the Musée de la Musique.
- Saint Serge de Radonege Church: Around the corner from the park is one of the best-kept secrets of Paris, the Russian Orthodox Church. Surrounded by beautiful foliage and old trees, the picturesque house has richly painted designs on its wood.
- Musée des moulages de l’hopital Saint-Louis: Residing in a historic building 20 mins away from the garden is a museum filled with medical waxworks that heavily contributed to the development of dermatology in the 19th century. These 5,000+ casts show a dynamic image of the French School of Dermatology.
Quick Guide and FAQs about Parc Buttes Chaumont
What is the price for the garden? Is there an entrance fee for the Buttes Chaumont Garden?
How to get to the Butte Chaumont Garden?
Metro line 7b has three stations in proximity of the garden, Buttes Chaumont and Botzaris right at the entrances, and Bolivar within walking distance. The station Laumière on Metro line 5 is less than five minutes away from the garden.
When is the garden open?
The garden is open all year round, but the schedule varies according to the seasons. From October to March, it is open from 7 am to 8 pm. From the end of March to the end of April, and in September, the park is open until 9 pm. In peak summer months, May to August, it stays open until 10 pm.
Parc Buttes Chaumont is a wonderful garden for those summer picnics and leisurely weekend strolls. If you are visiting Paris and need a break from all the touristy areas, head to Parc Buttes Chaumont to unwind and embrace Parisian life.
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