Bois de Vincennes
Paris has two major parks; the Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne. They are known as "the lungs of Paris" and they are where Parisians head to get away from the centre of the city, especially on the weekend.
Originially a royal hunting reserve, the 10km2/3.8sq mi park was gifted to the city by Napoleon III in 1860.
What to see
The park is home to the former hunting lodge, the Chateau de Vincennes.
There are four lakes in the park which are all fed from the Marne River. These lakes are perfect for walking, jogging, or running around or picnicking beside. Between March and November on weekends it is possible to rent boats on the two large lakes; one in the east of the park and one in the west.
There is also fitness trail in the eastern part of the Bois. The map of the Bois is here. The fitness trail is in green (in French "parcours de santé").
In the west corner of the park there is the Vincennes zoo. It is easy to spot because of its large 'faux' stone mountain. The zoo is very well known for its African Elephant breeding programme. The zoo is currently closed for renovations until 2014.
In the north corner side of the Bois is the Parc Floral with attractions for adults and children. It also has a major events centre and you never know quite what you will find. There are also a number of childrens play areas in the park (listed as "Jeux pour enfants").
The park is an excellent place for biking with long flat paths and interesting forest tracks. If you don't have your own bike, there are a number of "Velib" rental stations (The Parisian rental bike scheme. Information on the scheme in English is here). It is possible to rent bicycles by the hour and bike around the park.
There are several sporting venues in the park including a velodrome for bike racing and a hippodrome for horse racing although these are only open for specific events.
Things to do
How to get there
Bois du Vincennes is very easy to get to.
The easiest way to get to Chateau de Vincennes is by Metro.
Take the 1 line (the yellow line) from anywhere in Paris in the direction of Chateau de Vincennes. Take this metro to the end of the line, to the "Chateau de Vincennes" stop. At the top of the Metro is the Chateau. Walk either around or through the chateau to access the park.
You can use the Paris Metro T+ ticket to get there.
It is also possible to access the park using the Metro 8 line. Take the 8 in the direction of Creteil. The stops Porte Doree, Porte de Charenton and Liberte all boarder the park.
It is also possible to use the the RER A line, however the stops are further away and the T+ ticket will not work. The Vincennes stop (which services the town of Vincenne) requires a zone 2 ticket. The second stop (Fontenay sous-Bois) requires a zone 3 ticket.
Approximate Distance from Paris: 6.5km/4mi
Time to get there: about 15 minutes on the Metro 1 line.
Transport Method: Metro line 1 to 'Chateau de Vincennes' or line 8 to 'Porte Doree', 'Porte de Charenton', or 'Liberte'.
Approximate Price: Entrance to the park is free. The Metro is
1.70 Euro per person each way
Worth: 3 hours. A great place for a picnic lunch or dinner.
Website: No website although a map of the park is here