Paris - Ile De France
Buttes Chaumont - Park in Belleville - Paris
Parc des Buttes Chaumont, a luxuriant park in Belleville
The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is the third largest public park in Paris.
It is situated on the heights of Belleville, an iconic landmark of the Paris of yesteryear.
The Parc de Buttes Chaumont spreads on a hill once known as Mont Chauve (barren hill.)
The Mont Chauve indeed remained semi deserted until the mid 19th century.
Only a few farms and windmills could be seen among lime, clay and stone quarries.
The only access was the Chemin des Moulins (Windmills Lane), the current Rue de Clavel.
Alphand indeed transformed the 25-hectare barren hill into one of the most luxuriant parks in the capital!
He filled the old quarries, imported tons of topsoil and planted hundreds of trees and bushes.
The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is still to this day the park with the largest diversity of plant species!
This abundance of foliage and shading also encourages a multitude of bird species to nest and reproduce without fear of predators.
A vast network of twisty lanes, paths, stairways and footbridges will take you to its discovery.
Ile du Belvédère and Temple of Vesta
The Ile du Belvédère stands in the centre of a 1.5 hectare man-made lake fed by two streams.
A 65m long metallic suspension bridge links to a twisty path that leads to the Temple of the Sybil or Temple of Vesta.
Amazingly, this temple turned the Parc des Buttes Chaumont into the chore area of the Parisian esotericism in the mid 19th century.
Many legends indeed circulated about its purpose, but also about the underground quarries.
People indeed believed that they led to ancient places of worship!
Fact or fiction? who knows!
Pont des Suicides
A second bridge links the park to the Ile du Belvédère.
It became known as Pont des Suicides, and you can easily guess the tragic origin of its name!
A reinforced lattice was eventually installed on both sides of the walkway in order to discourage any desperate attempt!
Grotto, cascade and lake
The ancient quarries were filled, but their entrance was converted into a man-made grotto.
A cascade was also created; it gushes down the wall through a small opening.
It then flows into a series of small ponds interconnected by flat stones.
You'll have to skip from a stone to another in order to reach the exit.
It's quite fun!
Man-made stalactites were also added to the 15m high ceiling in order to recreate the features of a genuine grotto.
The effect is quite impressing and beautifully illustrates the landscape-architect's creativity and the masons' skill.
A now disused railway line can be seen at the foot of the Parc des Buttes Chaumont.
It leads to the 1124m long tunnel that runs under Belleville Hill.
The Petite Ceinture was a circular line built in the mid 19th century in order to serve the outskirts of Paris.
Enjoying the park
The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is stunning all year long.
The extensive variety of plant species indeed results in a stunning display of colours that evolves with the seasons.
The park is an ideal place for a walk or a jog, or simply for relaxing on a bench, read a book or just watch the world go by.
You'll also find three restaurants, all developed in 19th century buildings.
The most stunning is the Pavillon du Lac.
The building was indeed restored to its original appearance and converted in order to accommodate a restaurant and tea room that can sit nearly 130 customers.
You'll find it near the suspension bridge.
There are also an Italian restaurant and a guinguette in the upper part of the park.
The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is definitively a Must Visit when in Paris!
Directions: 19th District
Metro: Buttes Chaumont, Botzaris on Line 7bis
Coordinates: Lat 48.878507- Long 2.381776