Saturday, June 20, 2009
Free things to do in Paris everyday ... visit the parks and gardens
There are always numerous free things to do in Paris, some organised as one-off events such as the annual Nuits des Musees or the free entry to select museums on the first Sunday of each month.
But there are also a large number of free activities across Paris which one can enjoy every day of the week.
One of my favourites is a visit to the many parks and gardens for a walk amongst the flowers or a read, a nap or a play of the guitar on the lawn. Take along a picnic lunch or dinner and you can pass many enjoyable hours for next to nothing.
The only trouble with the latter is that many of the lawns in Paris are not for sitting on, they are only for looking at. You will see the signs, "Pelouse Interdite" or "Keep off the Grass" as we know it in english.
But there are also some grassed areas where one can sit, such as this one at Luxembourg Gardens right next to the "forbidden" area. I'm sure people would pay attention to the signs even if there weren't security regularly patrolling the area.
It seems bizarre to have a long stretch of lawn dotted through a park of "white chalk" paths strewn with the occassional spare metal chair and to have the grass forbidden.
But there are many parks where one can enjoy a little sit on the grass, such as the large parks on the periphery of Paris, Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes; the park in the middle of the square at Place des Voges; Champ de Mars beneath the Tour Eiffel; Parc des Buttes-Chaumont; a section on the edge of the Tuileries near the Louvre; on the hill in front of Sacre Coeur; behind Chatelet near the beautiful church Saint Eustache, the Square du Vert-Galant on the edge of the Ile de la Cite ...
There are also numerous paved (or cemented) areas along the Seine or the Canal St Martin where one can relax as the water flows nearby. It's not quite as comfortable as lounging on the grass, but it is always nice to watch the ebb and flow of the Seine.
But if the concrete is too hard and the grassey spaces too infrequent, there are the numerous benches and chairs in the Luxembourg Gardens, the Tuileries, the Square du Vert-Galant on the Louvre end of the Ile de la Cite.
Not to mention the dozens of tiny green spaces which are dotted across Paris, all inviting in the warmer summer months.
But if you do decide to relax on the lawn, just watch out to make sure a dog (or more correctly, its owner) haven't left behind a small gift on the grass.