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.
People love to compare my two favorite cities in the world - New York and Paris. If you know both cities, you would appreciate the artwork by Vahram Muratyan as much as I do. Using simple illustrations, he contrasts the City of Light and the Big Apple in a creative and humorous way. There's the classic bread difference like the bagel versus la baguette. The glitzy shopping streets of Fifth Avenue and Champ-Élysées depicted side-by-side. The fall-back food option of the open-all-day diner in contrast with the classic brasserie.
And then there's this one:
Which inspired a comparison based on my own experiences in each place:
Promenade Plantée [aka: coulée verte] (2013) versus High Line (2010)
If you're not familiar with either park, both have re-purposed abandoned train tracks into green spaces. And both pathways are elevated above street level. New York's is a modern, sleek park stretching through part of Chelsea. It rises above the sea of yellow taxis and offers a refuge of greenery and tons of benches. One thing I have always appreciated about it was the speed you can walk the pathway without all the traffic lights on street level…because in New York, aren't we all in a rush? Paris's Promenade Plantée (also called Coulée Verte) is similar in concept yet different in result achieved. It came along some 17 years earlier than the High Line and goes through a quieter residential area on the east side of Paris. It is less modern and more rustic in feel, perfect for a leisurely stroll.
Let me walk you through part of Paris' elevated park:
I love walking along the path and getting a look at the unique architecture in the eastern neighborhoods of Paris. While there are some classic Haussmannian-style buildings, alongside the classic cream tones of Paris are plenty of vibrant red brick buildings. They're just as much a part of Paris, yet less discovered by the average visitor.
Both styles can be admired on the Promenade Plantée, and the elevation off street level makes it easier to admire details of the surrounding buildings.
Weekends in spring and summer find the park at its busiest, like all parks in Paris. Join the locals in a walk along the path or enjoy a picnic lunch on a bench. Take in the green surroundings and peaceful setting dotted with look-out points to admire the neighborhood from above and remind yourself that you're still in a city.
And if you're ambitious, you can walk all the way from Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes along the lovely 4.5 kilometer stretch (2.8 miles).
PLAN YOUR VISIT:
Promenade Plantée / Coulée Verte
From Bastille, walk up to the park from one of the staircases along Avenue Daumesnil (12th arrondissement). You can walk the path to the Périphérique, and if you continue a little bit further you'll come to the Bois de Vincennes. (Bois de Vincennes is the largest park in the Paris.)
Free, open daily: from 8:00am (9:00am on weekends) until 5:30pm during the winter/9:30pm during the summer
If you're looking for a place to pause after a stroll in the park, consider two of my neighborhood favorites in the area.
Beer enthusiasts should head to Express de Lyon. It doesn't look like anything special from the outside, but inside is a wonderful selection of beer. See more from Paris by Mouth. [Express de Lyon, 1 Rue de Lyon, 75012 Paris, France]
If you're in the mood for a glass of wine, check out Le Baron Rouge. It's a fun local hangout offering super reasonable prices for wine by the glass and light nibbles (like terrine, characuterie, oysters, etc). See more on David Lebovitz's blog. [Le Baron Rouge, 1 Rue Théophile Roussel, 75012 Paris, France]