The biggest green space in Paris, with no fewer than 995 hectares, the Vincennes Wood is located to the east of the capital in the 12th arrondissement, with its entrance marked by the famous Golden Gate (Porte Dorée) located not far from the Metro station of the same name.
Many facilities have been installed on this vast wooded area, starting with the Breuil Horticultural School and its beautiful arboretum, the tropical agronomy garden full of romantic charm, and the Great Pagoda, the headquarters of the International Buddhist Institute. In the heart of the Vincennes Wood lies the famous Paris Zoological Park, also known as Vincennes Zoo, which reopened in 2014 after several years of renovation. On almost 14 hectares, you can admire a large number of animal species - from lemurs to giraffes through jaguars, penguins or vultures - spread over five biozones that are the Sahel-Sudan, Patagonia, Europe, French Guiana and Madagascar.
Meanwhile, the equally famous Paris Floral Park, which stretches north-east of the Vincennes Wood, is sure to appeal to lovers of gardening and botany with its collections of irises, dahlias, bonsais, rhododendrons and camellias. Many free events are organised in summer, like the three music festivals, the Paris Jazz Festival, Classique au Vert and Pestacles.
At the edge of the wood, in the municipality of Vincennes in the department of Val-de-Marne, is the biggest French royal castle fort that you can visit. Flanked by a high keep, it's a formidable reminder of medieval times!
For lovers of horse-racing, Paris-Vincennes Racecourse, which is well-known to punters, is not far away. Inaugurated in 1863, it is mainly devoted to trotting, harnessed or mounted, and hosts such prestigious races as the Grand Prix de France and the Prix d'Amérique.
An ideal destination for a walk or bicycle ride, the Vincennes Wood also lends itself perfectly to romantic walks, especially around its four lakes or along its beautiful streams. Full of charm with its two islands, a small temple and a pleasant path by the water, Lake Daumesnil is a popular meeting place for lovers of boating, but also joggers and walkers.