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.
I used to think that parks were only meant to be visited in the warmer months of the year. That concept was formed in my suburban days, as I grew up surrounded by trees and grass and was even accustomed to seeing wildlife like deer wander through our property. Living in a city as an adult made me realize the need to see nature all year round - something I had long taken for granted.
That’s why I’m sharing another “Park it in Paris” in the dead of winter. Today’s parc du jour was a brand new one for me to set foot in during my visit this December: Square des Batignolles. I love that even after living in Paris for a couple of years, I can still go back and continue to discover new places.
Located in the 17th arrondissement (northwest corner of Paris), the Square des Batignolles is not in an area that tourists would normally seek out. It’s tucked away in a residential neighborhood nearby some local restaurants and shops. It reminded me of the Square Du Temple, a similar oasis in my former neighborhood of the Marais which offers greenery right beside a busy shopping street. This one provides peace and beauty right beside the train tracks going into Gare Saint-Lazare.
This park was considerably larger than the one near our old apartment. It sports the English garden style with a natural landscape (the slightly messed but very intentional “bedhead” look of garden landscaping if you will). The label “square” is misleading - this sprawling park has play areas, a greenhouse, bridges, and even a waterfall. It was calm on the winter afternoon when we walked through, but I can imagine it coming alive with children playing on the playgrounds, carousel, and ping pong tables.
One of the most impressive aspects of the park was that it is home to some huge, sturdy trees. I’m not one to usually give special mention to plants (besides my house plant, Jacques, who I was very proud of not killing on account of my French landlady), so you know this has to be exceptional. I think it is - there are four trees that were planted in 1840 and 1880 and have grown to be among the largest in town. The history of Paris fascinates me, and just thinking about all these trees have lived through is amazing - like the fact that they started their lives at a time when the very land they were starting to sink their roots into was officially becoming part of the capital.
The bottom line? If you have a short time to spend in Paris, I’m not going to push this park as a must-visit. But if you’re in the area like I happened to be, I think it makes for a great spot to walk through for a change of scenery. Use the space like a Parisian and refresh in this green haven as you take a break from urban life.
PLAN YOUR VISIT:
Square des Batignolles
147 Rue Cardinet 75017 Paris, France
Hours: Open daily, winter hours 8:00am - 5:45pm weekdays, 9:00am-5:45pm weekends; summer hours 8:00am-9:30pm weekdays, 9:00am-9:30pm weekends
(See website (in French) for complete hours - slight variation in times in the shoulder months of March, April and September.)
While you’re in the area…
Stay in the neighborhood and explore with this guide by the HIP Paris blog.
Also within walking distance:
- Head over to the 18th arrondissement to the Montmartre Cemetery or to walk past the Moulin Rouge (about a 20-minute walk).
- Walk to the 8th arrondissement and continue with the green theme by paying a visit to Parc Monceau and/or a visit the beautiful estate of Musée Nissim de Camondo (about a 15-minute walk).