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.
For today’s parc du jour, I want to give a little love to Parc de Bercy because it doesn’t seem to get much recognition. It’s located in the 12th arrondissement in an area that is not often visited by tourists, even though it runs alongside the Seine. Similarly to what I commented on about the 11th arrondissement, the 12th doesn’t have much in the line of “tourist attractions” to entice visitors over its way, so it remains more residential and decidedly local. In other words, you’re not trekking eastward with a checklist of things to do, other than stroll, eat, eat some more, and drink. (Clearly I need to later address all the deliciousness that lies in the 11th and 12th, but for now let’s focus on burning those calories with a walk around the park.)
Parc de Bercy is quite a diverse park with truly something for everyone. It is divided into three sections. which you can see on the map below. The first section, labeled “Les grandes pelouses” (the large lawns), is, well, exactly as described. There’s plenty of open space to enjoy, and people are even allowed to walk or sit on the grass. (If that sounds like an odd comment, know that some lawns are for looking and not touching - always be attentive and look for signs or see what others are doing when in France!)
The middle section of the park known as the Jardin Yitzhak Rabin (dedicated to the fifth Prime Minister of Israel and Nobel Peace Prize recipient). For as natural and wild as the lawns of the first section are, this area is the complete opposite. It has nine sections of formal gardens, each with a theme. There are is a rose garden, a vegetable garden, and to my surprise, even a small vineyard on the grounds!
The area that the Parc de Bercy covers now once was used for bottling and storing wine. The first warehouse opened during the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715). At the time, the land was outside of the city limits of Paris which made it ideally situated to avoid city taxes. Now the vineyard in the park recalls what the land was once used for in the not so-distant past. (Wine was still being stored here until the 1970’s!)
On our most recent visit to Parc de Bercy in August of this year, we stumbled upon a little exhibition on perspective in the middle section. Outside the Maison de Jardinage (Gardening House) you can often find temporary exhibitions so head over to the central area to see if anything is being displayed.
To get to the last third of the park, one must cross over rue Joseph Kessel. There are two bridges that cross above the road in order to do so. On the other side is the territory of the romantic garden. And while this area appears on the dull side at first, continue on until you get to the pond with birds and sunbathing turtles.
There are playground sections in this area as well. And don't miss my odd-Paris sculpture find on the way out! Continue out this exit and take a walk through the shops and restaurants of the Bercy Village [link in French] to end an outing in this area. If you do walk through, notice the railroad tracks that still remain from when trains transported wine to be stored in the warehouses.
Have you ever been to Parc de Bercy or heard of it?
PLAN YOUR VISIT:
Parc de Bercy
128 Quai de Bercy 75012 Paris, France
Open daily; Monday-Friday 8:00am-7:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 9:00am-7:30pm