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Bois de Boulogne
Bois de Boulogne Review
When Parisians need a day in the great outdoors close to home, they head to the Bois de Boulogne. The Bois is not a park in the traditional sense—more like a tamed forest, as it was once a royal hunting ground. On nice days, it is filled with cyclists, rowers, joggers, pétanque players, and picnickers enjoying the formal gardens, romantic lakes, and wooded paths.
The Parc de Bagatelle is a floral garden with irises, roses, tulips, and water lilies that is at its most colorful between April and June. Pré Catelan contains one of Paris's largest trees: a copper beech more than 200 years old. The romantic Le Pré Catelan restaurant, where le tout Paris used to dine on the elegant terrace during the Belle Époque, still lures diners and wedding parties—especially on weekends. The Jardin Shakespeare inside the Pré Catelan has a sampling of the flowers, herbs, and trees mentioned in Shakespeare's plays, and becomes an open-air theater for the Bard's works in spring. The Jardin d'Acclimatation, on the northern edge of the Bois, is an amusement park that attracts seemingly every local preschooler on summer Sunday afternoons. Highlights include boat trips along an "enchanted river" and an aviary. A miniature railway shuttle runs from Porte Maillot on Wednesday and weekends beginning at 1:30 (tickets cost €2.70, round-trip). Rent boats or bikes for a few euros at Lac Inférieur. You can row or take a quick ferry to the island restaurant Chalet des Iles. Two popular horse-racing tracks are also in the park, the Hippodrome de Longchamp and the Hippodrome d'Auteuil. Fans of the French Open can visit its home base, Stade Roland-Garros (tours in English Wednesday to Sunday at 11 am and 3 pm, €10), and true devotees can check out the Tenniseum (€7.50 or €15 with stadium entry).
The main entrance to the Bois is off Avenue Foch near the Porte Dauphine métro stop on the 2 line; it is best for accessing Pré Catelan and Jardin Shakespeare, both located off the Route de la Grande-Cascade by the lake. For the Jardin d'Acclimatation, off Boulevard Des Sablons, take the 1 line to Les Sablons or Porte Maillot, where you can ride the petit train to the amusement park. The Parc de Bagatelle, off Route de Sèvres-à-Neuilly, can be accessed from either Porte Dauphine or Porte Maillot, though it's a bit of a hike. You'll want to leave the park by dusk, as the Bois becomes a distinctly adult playground after dark.
- Address: Porte Dauphine for main entrance; Porte Maillot or Les Sablons for northern end; Porte d'Auteuil for southern end, Western Paris, Paris, 75016 | Map It
- Phone: 01-40-71-75-60 Parc de Bagatelle; 01-40-67-90-82 Jardin d'Acclimatation
- Cost: Parc de Bagatelle free except during exhibitions; otherwise €5.00; Jardin Shakespeare €1; Jardin d'Acclimatation €3, does not include ride tickets.
- Hours: Daily; hrs vary according to time of yr but are generally around 10 am to dusk
- Website: www.jardindacclimatation.fr
- Metro Porte Dauphine for main entrance; Porte Maillot for norther entrance; Porte d'Auteuil for southern end.
- Location: Western Paris
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