Bois de Boulogne is one of the parks situated in Paris. The park is an enormous one, located in the 16th arrondissement of western Paris near Boulogne-Billancourt and Neuilly-sur-Seine area. The park covers 8.459 square kilometers area which means it is two and a half times larger than the famous Central Park in New York.
History of Bois de Boulogne
Back in the eighth century, the area where Bois de Boulogne stands today was an ancient oak forest. It was first mentioned in the charter of Compiègne dated in 717 where it was stated that the land was given to the Abbey of Saint-Denis by Childeric. The abbey then built several monasteries on the land before Philip Augustus bought back the land to create a royal hunting reserve.
During the Hundred Years’ War, the forest became a nest for robbers so that in 1416 the Duke of Burgundy ordered his troops to burn down the forest. The forest was rejuvenated during King Louis XI’s reign and two roads were built to make it accessible.
After several changes of rulers, owners, and functions, the area was finally turned into a park by Napoleon III in 1852. He assigned Baron Haussmann to design the park and accommodate his desire that the park would be a reminiscence of Hyde Park in England. He particularly wanted a stream crossing the park just like the one he remembered in Hyde Park.
Bois de Boulogne was finally turned into the city of Paris property in 1929. It had been then hosted the croquet and tug of war events during 1900 Summer Olympics and a motor race event, the Paris Cup, in 1945 after World War II.
Bois de Boulogne Today
Over 50% of trees in Bois de Boulogne are oak trees, rooting back to its original history as an oak forest. The rest of them are cedars, plane trees, gingko bilobas, and numerous other tree species. The park also features a 28 km of horse-riding trails and 15 km of cycling paths which are the main appeals for sports men and women.
Bois de Boulogne has been a popular place for jogging, biking, boat rowing, picnicking, and playing remote controlled speed boats on weekends. However, it has a bad reputation at night as it becomes one of Paris’ most prominent red-light districts. The French government has been trying to eliminate the prostitution but it seems more work still needs to be done.
Bois de Boulogne has an annual 3-day weekend party event every July which is attended by mostly students who camp out overnight. In the party, over 50 bands and singers give the audience their best performances.
The best attraction in Bois de Boulogne is Jardin d’Acclimation which is an amusement park for children featuring a menagerie, a museum, and other interesting attractions. The park is located in the northern part of Bois de Boulogne.
The amusement park was inaugurated by Napoleon III in 1860 and originally called as Paris zoo until most of the animals in the park’s menagerie were cooked and served in Voisin, a fine Paris restaurant, by chef Alexandre Etienne Choron. Some other attractions inside the park includes pony ride, a puppet theater, a miniature-golf course, a narrow-gauge train, a house of mirrors, and an archery range.
Visiting Bois de Boulogne
There are two practical ways to get to Bois de Boulogne. The first one is by getting on a metro. There are two metro stations situated near Bois de Boulogne, Porte Dauphine or Porte d’Ateuil. You can also access the park by RER and stop at either Porte-Maillot or Avenue Foch RER station.