Green Paris Walks

April 11, 2012By Heidi EllisonSecret Paris
Paris Update Cite Floral
Another cherry tree in the Cité Florale in Paris’s 13th arrondissement.

Who knew that Paris’s 13th arrondissement, bristling with towering apartment buildings, was also home not only to the city’s largest Chinatown but also many discrete green spaces and a terribly charming little triangular enclave of small houses (originally built for workers) and flowering trees, vines and gardens called the Cité Florale. The latter was just one of the many discoveries I made on a recent walk led by Daniel Ramey, president of the Comité Départemental de la Randonné Pédestre de Paris, based on the association’s book Parcs, Jardins et Bois de Paris… à Pied, from the Porte d’Orléans in the 14th arrondissement to the Porte d’Ivry in the arrondissement. This handy little volume contains 29 self-guided walks that show a sometimes hidden side of Paris – its pocket parks, tree-lined streets, community gardens and more – as well as hidden corners of its larger parks and gardens. On my walk I also saw for the first time St. François, a handsome red-brick convent and its chapel (open to the public), home to 18 Franciscan brothers and built in 1936. We also ran into several carefully preserved vestiges of Paris’s first Gallo-Roman aqueduct; visited a handsome modern garden with a number of water features, the Jardin Juan Miro, and another, the Jardin du Moulin-de-la-Pointe, on the former site of a mill on the now-covered Bièvre River; and saw the only monument to Chinese who died in World War I serving France by doing such dirty jobs as clearing mines and carrying corpses. Ramey, a font of information, noted that there are 500 green spaces and 600,000 trees in Paris. All walks begin and end at a Métro station and take about three hours. In French only.

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