Also dubbed as the “Paris’ Lung” Bois de Vincennes is literally a vast spread of green area near Vincennes town in Paris. Its size is staggering at 9,946 km which is equal to the size of three New York’s Central Parks or four London’s Hyde Parks.
Located in the city’s border, Bois de Vincennes has become a favorite escape for Parisians from their exhausting daily routine. Everyday, people are seen strolling, picnicking, boating, or just catching some fresh air.
History of Bois de Vincennes
The park was originally preserved as a hunting area for kings of France. Then, after French Revolution, the area changed role into an area for soldiers to exercise. It was Napoleon III who gave the area to the city of Paris who turned it into a public park in 1860. The one who was in charge of the birth of the park was Maurice Blum.
By 1900, the park was established so that it could host the archery events of 1900 Summer Olympics. An official law of Property of Paris over Bois de Vincennes was then legalized on July 18, 1929. As for the name “Bois de Vincennes” itself was taken from the title of a prose-poetry book by French-Armenian writer Nigoghos Sarafian. The book was just translated into English recently in 2011 by Christopher Atamian and published by Wayne State Press. The book itself tells stories about Armenian history and the author’s daily park walk experience.
Bois de Vincennes Today
With such a vast area, Bois de Vincennes has many attractions to offer. One of the most famous is Château de Vincennes which once served as a favorite hideaway for 14th century kings. The château is currently under renovation. However, it is a partial renovation so there are parts of the château which can still be accessed by visitors.
Lakes are also major elements of Bois de Vincennes. There are four lakes in total which all flow to the Marne River. From all four lakes, only one is a natural lake which is Lac de Saint-Mandé in the northwest area of the park. The other three lakes, Lac Daumesnil, Lac des Minimes, and Lac de Gravelle, are all man made.
Lac Daumesnil is located in the western part of the park and features two islands with a café on one of those islands. This is the largest lake in the park with 12 hectares of area and an excellent spot for boating and having a romantic escapade. Lac des Minimes is the second largest, covering 6 hectares of water area and featuring three islands. Lac de Gravelle is the smallest one with only 1 hectare of water area located in the southwestern part of the park.
Inside Bois de Vincennes, there is a Buddhist Center which only opens during spring and summer for exhibition. The Buddhist Center exhibits Buddha statues and features a colonial era wood pavilion which makes an outstanding background for photo shooting.
In the eastern part of the park, a floral park housing hundreds of flower and plants varieties is ready to charm you. Collections such as camellias, irises, dahlias, and rhododendrons are appealing the visitors to come closer. Usually, there will be jazz concerts or some performances done on the park’s central stage.
Bois de Vincennes Zoo
Near the area, there is also a zoo which is also known as Zoo de Vincennes. The official name of the zoo is Parc Zoologique de Paris. Its complete address is at 53 Avanue de Saint-Maurice, 75012 Paris. The zoo is covering 15 hectares of area and surrounded with woods with an eminent 65-meter high rock. Unfortunately, the zoo is now under reconstruction and will open in 2014. So, you have two more years to plan your trip to Paris and Bois de Vincennes and enjoy its newly opened zoo.
Visiting Bois de Vincennes
The main entrance of Bois de Vincennes is located at Avenue de Paris just to the east of 12 arrondissement. You can get there by metro. There are three metro station near Bois de Vincennes. They are Chateau de Vincennes, Porte Doree, or Porte de Charenton. You can also take bus line 46 or 56.