Saturday 23 September 2023

One day one photo - 23: Bois de Vincennes, my favourite Parisian park

Lac Daumesnil, Bois de Vincennes 

I love going to the Bois de Vincennes, one of the two extensive green spaces at either end of Central Paris. Almost every time I visit Paris I go there. Sometimes I ride through it and stop for a little picnic, like the last time I was in Paris. Other times I go for a run there or include it as part of a cycle commute. On other occasions, like today, I go for a stroll. 

Why not the Bois de Boulogne? You might ask. This other park on the West Side of Paris is also a very pleasant place to be, and in fact when I do a London to Paris cycle ride the last part of my ride often goes through the Bois de Boulogne. I must say, though, I find the Bois de Boulogne slightly busy and on some of the main roads you get boy racers zooming down it. From the early evening onwards you get a fair smattering of prostitutes too. It's not always that tranquil.

The thing of importance to me is the emotional connection I have with the Eastern side of Paris. For a few years I lived in the 12th arrondissement, near Porte Dorée, one of the entrances into the Bois de Vincennes. I would regularly run or walk around the Lac Daumesnil, and I would go for afternoon walks or picnics with friends. On a Saturday or Sunday afternoon I used to go to watch small concerts at the Parc Floral. 

On other Sundays when my local gym was closed I would go running around a waymarked route through the woods, starting and finishing at the Chateau de Vincennes and taking in the Lac des Minimes.

You can also go rowing, too though I haven't tended to do that much. I wonder if they'll allow paddleboarding?

These days when I go to Paris I tend to stay in and around Vincennes, and being near these woods makes for an oasis of calm, away from the hustle and bustle of the Paris metropolitan area. 

So after my morning Swim at the Yvonne Godard pool today I took the tram down to Porte Dorée for a little walk, ahead of my Paris-Versailles run. 

It was a real treat to be there in the morning while it was quiet, with just joggers and a few swans. 

Having this 2,500-acre parkland and woodland, slightly larger than Richmond Park in South London, definitely gives my trips a countryside feel where I can be in touch with nature and relax in one of the World's major cities. So I must say a big thank you to Napoleon Bonaparte and Baron Haussman, who in the 1850s had the idea to create a green space for the working class in Eastern Paris. Mind you, as I look around the nearby 12th arrondissement, and suburbs like Vincennes, Saint-Mandé or Saint-Maurice it seems pretty middle class!

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