1902 Encyclopedia > Paris > Promenades and Parks

(Part 4)

Promenades and Parks

In the heart of Paris, are situated the gardens of the Tuileries (74 acres), laid out in parterres and bosquets, planted with chestnut trees, lindens, and place trees, and adorned with playing fountains and basins, and numerous statues mostly from the antique. From the terrace along the river side a view is to be had over the Seine to the park and palace of the Trocadero; and from the terraces along the Place de la Concorde the eye takes in the Place and the Avenue of the Champs Elysees. The gardens of the Luxembourg, in front of the palace occupied by the senate, are rather larger than those of the Tuileries; with less regularity of form they present greater variety of appearance. In the line of the main entrance extends the beautiful Observatory Walk, terminating in a monumental fountain, which is in great part the work of Carpeaux. The Luxembourg conservatories are rich in rare plants; and classes are held in the gardens for the study of gardening, fruit –tree pruning, and bee-keeping. The Jardin des Plantes will be mentioned below in the list of scientific establishments. Besides these three great gardens laid out in the French taste, with straight walks and regular beds, there are several in what the French designate the English style. The finest and most extensive of these, the Buttes-Chaumont Gardens, in the northeast of the city, occupy 62 acres of very irregular ground, which up to 1866 was occupied by plaster-quarries, limekilns, and brick-works. The "buttes" or knolls are now covered with turf, flowers, and shrubbery. Advantage has been taken of the varying relief of the site to form a fine lake and a cascade with picturesque rocks. The Montsouris Park, in the south of the city, 40 acres in extent, also consists of broken ground; in the middle stands the meteorological observatory, built after the model of the Tunisian palace of Bardo, and it also contains a monument in memory of the heroic and unfortunate Flatters expedition. Monceau Park, surrounded by the most aristocratic quarters of modern Paris, is a portion of the old park belonging to King Louis Philippe, and is now the property of the town. The gardens of the Palais Royal are surrounded by arcades and fine shops. There is hardly, it may be further remarked, a district of Paris which has not of recent years its well-planted square kept up at municipal expense on some plot of ground cleared during the improvements. Such are those named after Tour St Jacques (one of the most graceful monuments of old Paris), the Conversatoire des Arts et Metiers, the Temple, Montholon, Cluny, &c. There have recently been added the park of the Champs de Mars, and that of the Trocadero with its fountains and aquarium.

But the real parks of Paris are the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincenees, which belong to the city, though situated outside of the fortification. The former is reached by the wide avenue of the Champs Elysees as far as the Arc de Triomphe, and thence by the avenue of the Bois de Boulogne, or that of the Grande Armee. The first of these, with its side walks for foot passengers and equestrians, grass-plots, flower-beds, and elegant building with gardens and railings in front, affords a wide and magnificent prospect over the Bois and the hills of St Cloud and Mont Valerien. The Bois de Boulogne covers an area of 2158 acres, one-fourth of which is occupied by turf, one-eight by roads, and the rest by clumps of trees, sheets of water, or running streams. Here are the two race-courses of Longchamps (flat races) and Auteuil (steeple-chases), and he gardens of the Acclimatization Society, which, with their menageries, conservatories, and aquarium, are largely visited by pleasure-seekers. The Bois de Vincenees, a little larger than the Bois de Boulogne, is similarly adorned with streams, lakes, cascades; and from the Gravelle plateau there is a splendid view over the valleys of the Marne and the Seine. Unfortunately the wood is cut in two by an open space comprising a drill-ground for artillery and infantry, a race-course, and a farm (La Faisanderie) for agricultural experiments. Trees for the public parks and squares are grown in the great municipal nurseries at Auteuil and Bois de Boulogne; and the municipal botanical gardens of La Muette, with thirty-five conservatories covering 1 _ acres, and an equal area under frames, contain magnificent collections of azaleas, palm-trees, and other exotics for ornamenting the public gardens or decorating official apartments on fete days.

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