Park it in Paris: Lac Daumesnil in Bois de Vincennes

In the "Park it in Paris" series, I write about the city's parks - some of the best spots to relax, people-watch, and mingle with the locals.

Writing really can be therapeutic. I’m sorry if I’ve allowed you to step into the role of my attentive psychologist as I keep making declaration about myself. I love weird modern statues! I am always up for a climb to get a view of a city from above! And today’s new piece of info - I love boats! (If you do too, good news - you certainly have not heard the end of my enjoyment of a good boat ride.)

My affection for boats is a fickle one. I know little about boats and how they operate, but I know one thing: I love boat rides, on any type and any size boat. In fact, it’s odd that I still haven’t been on a cruise given this soft spot for being on the water. 

But enough about me. All this to say that over a year ago, I latched onto the idea of renting a boat to go out on Lac Daumesnil in Paris’ Bois de Vincennes. It’s been on my Paris bucket list, and feeling newly inspired to get serious about checking off those lingering items, Michael and I went set out last Saturday take a boat out on the lake.

Bois de Vincennes is a huge park in eastern Paris (the largest park in Paris, in fact). To give you an idea of its size, it’s about three times larger than New York’s Central Park. It contains four lakes, a zoo, an arboretum, and Parc Floral which I’ve written about, just to name a few things. There’s even the Château de Vincennes nearby. It is a place where locals go to rest, rejuvenate, picnic, and play - and we even found some Parisians who didn’t leave town for August who were out enjoying the sunshine on Saturday.

Of the park's four lakes, three are man-made and Lac Daumesnil is one of them. It is beautifully landscaped around the lake with its romantic Temple d'Amour and grotto below. 

It really was a lovely boat ride (I say "ride," as Michael kindly chauffeured me for a spin around the lake). The loop takes a leisurely 40 minutes, so there's more than enough time within the hour rental to see the entire lake and spare some time to mellow out, people-watch, and observe the ducks and swans. I love moments like these where I can be refreshed by nature before reconnecting with city-life. 

This is a park to go to spend a few hours of boating, picnicking, walking/biking, and getting a breath of fresh air before getting back into the city. It’s also a great spot to go with children  - with the boats, zoo, and big playgrounds at Parc Floral, there’s bound to be plenty of amusements for the whole family.

One of two suspension bridges over the lake. Cars can drive over the bridge, to my surprise at first.

A look at the Temple d'Amour and the artificial grotto below, as seen from our boat

Do you have any favorite places to go to rejuvenate and take a break from your normal surroundings?


Bois de Vincennes 

75012 Paris, France

Boating on Lac Daumesnil [link in French]
€ 12/hour for 1-2 people, €13/hour for 3-4 people, have to give an additional €10 deposit (which you receive back when you are done with the boat)
Open daily 10:00am-7:00pm, open until 8:00pm in the summer
Annually closed from the end of November until the beginning of March


Pictured above: the location where you can rent a boat - or search Google Maps for "Location de barques du lac Daumesnil"