In my last post I wrote about Parisian amusement parks. In this one I’ll discuss the regular parks we visited.
Parcs, jardins, et bois — oh my!
So what’s the difference between a parc, jardin, and bois, you might be wondering? We visited all three types and they all appeared to be what we’d call a park in English. However, there is indeed a difference, and that difference is size.
According to the Paris Insiders Guide, places, or squares, are the smallest; parks are medium-sized; gardens are bigger (I’d assume gardens were smaller but I’m imagining people’s personal gardens); and bois, or woods, are the biggest, which would have been great to know before we ventured on foot in Bois de Boulogne.
But anyhoo, on with the show.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (and Belleville)
Yiannis went running in this park during our last trip and told me about the cool rock formations so I thought it worth a visit.
The rock formations were cool, and the park seems like a nice place to hang out, but since the terrain was unfamiliar, I didn’t feel comfortable exploring it too much. What was interesting, as well as disturbing, was the part of town I walked through to get there.
Called Belleville, it has has a large Chinese population — and a lot of Chinese prostitutes. The first woman I saw, I wasn’t sure if she was. She had an a short skirt and was standing on the corner, but she was right across from a restaurant that looked to be about to open so I thought maybe she worked there.
But then on the next block I saw a few who were obviously sex workers, and then I felt both weird and awful. They were speaking Mandarin, which I associate with family and childhood, and except for their skimpy outfits, they looked like regular women. In the movies, prostitutes seem to be always played by models, but these women didn’t look like models. They looked any Chinese woman you’d see on the subway.
On my way home, I didn’t want to walk through that part of town again, and found an alternate route.
Parc de Bercy
This park in the 12 arrondissement was absolutely lovely and probably my favorite. Smaller and therefore easier to navigate, Parc de Bercy has several little ponds with plenty of water fowl and nice grassy areas where you can lie back and look at the trees swaying in the wind.
Plus it was right near a sort of outdoor mall so it was easy afterwards to get something to eat and catch a movie (American Ultra, if you’re curious, which was absolutely delightful).
Bois de Boulogne
This bois is described as being more than twice as big as Central Park. As a result, we, or at least I, imagined it being like Central Park. It wasn’t.
We did eventually find a nice lake, but until then we just sort of wandered around, which was no easy feat. There weren’t any paved walkways like in Central Park, just the road for cars and a sandy path that definitely required hiking boots, or at least sneakers, and not the sandals that I was wearing.
Traveling on foot seemed to be taking forever so I suggested getting bikes although the idea of it made me nervous. I haven’t ridden in a long time so I’m out of practice, and also I was wearing a dress. It turned out to be fine although wearing better shoes and pants or shorts would have made it easier.
Next up, the final Paris post: miscellaneous! I know you can’t wait.