Formerly the hunting ground of the French kings, the Boulogne Wood (Bois de Boulogne) in the 16th arrondissement of Paris is nowadays a vast park that's very popular with Parisians and passing visitors. Although its reputation is sometimes slightly tarnished by its nocturnal goings-on, it is above all the biggest outdoor relaxation area in the west of the capital, covering 846 hectares.
Accessible by Metro via the Porte Maillot station, this breath of fresh air for the city also encompasses the famous Bagatelle Park, a delightful English-style garden with a magnificent rose garden of over 1,200 different varieties, as well as a charming little 18th-century castle. A gem of the decorative arts, the latter was built as a bet between Marie-Antoinette and her brother-in-law the Count of Artois, in just 64 days!
Not far from there, between the Lower Lake and the Bagatelle Park, the Pré-Catalan Garden delights walkers. This botanical park is indeed full of lovely plant varieties, like the copper beech, sequoia and magnolia grandiflora. It also has buildings dating back to the time of Louis XIV, such as the old dairy, the Pré-Catalan restaurant and the theatre of greenery.
Little ones and their parents will love the Acclimatisation Garden (Jardin d'Acclimatation), a green space with entertainment ranging from a little train to pony rides, through the Enchanted River, Guignol theatre, acrobatics course and children's play areas. Nearby at 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, art-lovers will find their heart's content by visiting the very modern Louis Vuitton Foundation for contemporary creativity. The building, designed to resemble a yacht or ship by Frank Gehry, first opened in 2014. To the south-east of the Boulogne Wood, the Auteuil Greenhouse Garden enchants botany enthusiasts, with its collections of rare plants and remarkable trees!
The lakes and streams in this vast expanse of woodland make it an ideal place for a walk with your family or beloved, especially near the Lower Lake, where you can take a boat ride. Yet the Boulogne Wood also has 28 kilometres of horse-riding trails, 15 kilometres of cycle paths and many pedestrian paths, making it a paradise for joggers and walkers. For a little break, there are plenty of picnic areas, refreshment stands and restaurants. And if you enjoy horse-racing, bear in mind that the Auteuil and Longchamp racecourses are found to the south of the Boulogne Wood, so you can treat yourself to that experience.