Ever since its opening in 1969, this garden has been a delight for Parisians looking for an immediate change of scenery. There, you can walk through Japanese gardens, a Provençale pine forest and huge flowerbeds, to name just a few. You can also admire incredibly colourful butterflies in their designated area and, in summer, listen to jazz concerts amid lotus flowers. Officially labelled as one of the four “Botanical gardens of France and French-speaking countries”, it should, without any hesitation, be on top of your list.
Route de la Pyramide, 75012 Paris
Open all year long, from 9.30 am
Entrance fee: 2.50 € (full price) – 1,50 € (reduced price) between May and October, free during the rest of the year.
Ariane Mnouchine turned this former weapons factory into a creative center for theatrical art. Since then, new companies joined her Théâtre du Soleil (Theater of the Sun), including the Théâtre de la Tempête’s (Theater of the Storm), the wooden sword’s and the Aquarium’s troupes. Choreographer Carolyn Carlson’s studio also took part to this artistic experiment, giving you the opportunity to go through a complete cultural experience in the middle of the woods.
Route du Champ de Manœuvre, 75012 Paris
Granted, trees are beautiful, but stay sharp for the horse riders galloping in the bois de Vincennes. Many equestrian activities await you: pony rides, horse-race betting, visit of barracks… The racetracks of the Paris Hippodrome, built in 1863, host the prestigious Paris Grand Prix and the American Grand Prix. Be sure not to miss the Quartier Carnot, one of the barracks of the Republican Guard, open to visitors.
If, after a busy week amid Paris’ tiring pace and endless noise, you find yourself yearning for a laid-back and silent retreat, we’ve got just the spot for you: the Kagyu Dzong temple. Looking at its colourful facades, symbolizing Buddha’s “4 Noble Truths”, you’ll promptly forget the greyness of Parisian buildings. But above all, that’s where you’ll find the tallest Buddha statue in Europe, entirely made of gold. A sight for sore eyes…
Temple Kagyu Dzong
40 bis Route de Ceinture du lac Daumesnil, 75012 Paris
For those of you nostalgic of simpler times, when people didn’t have to bother with clothes, the bois de Vincennes has an area especially dedicated for nudists. Last summer, Paris’ city hall opened, for a month and a half, a naturist space the size of a soccer field. This experiment turned out to be a great success, with over 400 people enthusiastically stripping-down every week-end. It will, once again, open this summer, to the great pleasure of Paris’ Nudist Association.
Regardless of how charming and refreshing a forest might be, lakes should be an integral part of it. Luckily, you’ll find a couple of them in the bois de Vincennes. Boat rides are one of the most popular activities: sail away on the Daumesnil (west) or the Minimes lakes (east)! Always a great way to have fun, with friends or family, whenever the sun is out.
Boat renting in the Bois de Vincennes
Route de Ceinture du lac Daumesnil
Lac des Minimes
Accès par l’Avenue de Nogent
History buffs, this one is for you. The Vincennes University was founded in 1968 to meet the demands of rebellious students and quickly became a hotspot of experimental and innovative learning methods. It was, however, destroyed in 1980 following the construction of the Vincennes University. Trees were planted in 2015 on the grounds of the former university, wiping off all traces of the walls which sheltered several prominent intellectuals.
To get a true sense of the Bois de Vincennes’ past, have a look at these pictures from the early XXth century…