Tim EntwislePlant promenade in Paris

At 10 metres above the ground, maybe 10 metres wide, nearly 5 kilometres long, and packed with trees, shrubs and views of Parisian streets, the Promenade plantée is a trend setter and worth a look next time you are in town. OK, so it’s ranked 180th in Lonely Planet’s list of 1524 things to do in Paris, but then this is about my fifth visit to Paris and I like plants.

Tim Entwisle Promenade plantée 1

Promenade plantée

For twenty years this linear park has (more or less) connected the Place de la Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes. In fact it doesn’t quite make it to either landmark but at 4.7 kilometres long it’s fair bit of parkland. And remember this is all on a raised platform so this is a very long, thin, roof garden.

For some reason I had never twigged (sorry) to this being in Paris. I had read about these linear parks but had for some reason assumed they were all in the USA; aside from Cheonggyecheon, the brilliantly restored 8.4 kilometre stream in Seoul in South Korea that opened in 2005. Well, the trend started here, in Paris.

Tim Entwisle Promenade plantée 2

Promenade plantée

Tim Entwisle Promenade plantée 3

Promenade plantée

Tim Entwisle Promenade plantée 4

Promenade plantée

The first stage of New York’s more famous High Line (at a more measured 2.7 kilometres long) was opened in 2010, and there are plans for similar linear parks in Chicago and Philadelphia. But Promenade plantée, also known as Coulée verte (the green streak) was completed way back in 1993, transforming part of the Vincennes railway line into a path to walk, run or scooter along while you take time to smell the flowers or, unusually for Paris, listen to the birds.

Tim Entwisle Promenade plantée 5

Promenade plantée

Underneath it is a mix of expensive art studios (Viaduc des Arts; my red framed window picture below is a deep and meaningful riff on work, love and life as the driving forces for man, women and artist respectively – or so Lynda says), a large electrical goods store going in liquidation, and a restaurant (Café Jardin l’Arrosoir) which I recommend for tagine and coffee!

Tim Entwisle Promenade plantée 6

Promenade plantée

Tim Entwisle Promenade plantée 7

Promenade plantée

Tim Entwisle Promenade plantée 8

Promenade plantée

Up at the old railway level, the landscape changes as you promenade. One particularly dramatic section cuts through the Jardin de Reuilly, a garden planted around the same time as the linear park. It’s a busy mix of concrete, terraced gardens and emerald green manicured lawns.

Tim Entwisle Promenade plantée 9

Promenade plantée

Tim Entwisle Promenade plantée 10

Promenade plantée

And they are doing all the right things, such as minimising the use of potable water, and putting up pretty signs saying they are doing just that.

Sign on gate – Promenade plantée

Nearby the Promenade makes one of its more dramatic interventions through the built Parisian landscape.

Promenade plantée

So yes Lynda and I are spending a weekend in Paris, staying in the 10th arrondissement for the first time. We shuttled over on the Eurostar and walked to our apartment in Rue de Paradis. It isn’t exactly paradis but definitely a convenient place to explore this part of town (including the tempting food in Rue du Faubourg St Denis and further south, Rue Montorguel). Now, what’s 181 on that Lonely Planet list?

[And that restored stream in Seoul? Here’s a photo I took in 2008.]


Korean city scape

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Tim Entwisle

About Tim Entwisle

Dr Tim Entwisle is a scientist and scientific communicator with a broad interest in plants, science and gardens, and Director & Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Previously he was Director of Conservation, Living Collections & Estates at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and prior to that, Director of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens for eight years. Read Tim's full blog at Talking Plants

10 thoughts on “Plant promenade in Paris

  1. The great thing about social media and the internet in general is that we far flung antipodeans can read about these wonderful gardens and can get to see photos of them that we would otherwise have been totally ignorant of. Thank you for sharing this fantastic idea of a garden/park with us. How lucky you are to be able to holiday in France. The prohibitive cost to we Aussies makes it a once in a lifetime event but we CAN live vicariously through the posts of others. I had never heard of this series of raised gardens/parkland in France and am replete with knowing that it started in France 🙂 Thank you for sharing

  2. Thanks for the feedback! It gives added pleasure to my trips to be able to blog about any botanical treats along the way. I’ve enjoyed being close to Europe (or part of Europe – never quite clear in UK how to express this) for nearly two years and will miss it when I return to Australia in a few months. Still, then I’ll have the whole of Australia to botanize and gardenize….

  3. Tim, I like your photos and descriptions of this park, which we used to visit quite regularly when we lived in Paris. The planting now feels a little dated to me, especially compared to its more famous off-spring in New York, which of course is all Oudorf grasses and big sweeps of perennials. But maybe that’s just a sad reflection of how fashions come and go so quickly these days, even in gardening. You’re right though that it is a lovely way to experience Paris more quietly than normal, and some of the architecture you glimpse as you stroll is fabulous.

    • Thanks. Yes it’s true the plants are a little dull by current standards. I suspect it’s also easier to look after this kind of garden – i.e. it’s what has survived. I wonder if they put more resources into the New York strip, which sadly I haven’t seen. Sounds good!

  4. Beautiful evocative images Tim. Re: the Lonely Planet list- it’s about time the writers of travel guides realized that there are millions of people who are interested in gardens. I used to borrow as many guidebooks as possible from the library to see if any gardens were recommended for a particular destination. I found Fodor’s was the most likely to mention plants, gardens and landscapes. Of course with the internet the information is more accessible but there is still a bias against gardens created in the 20th and 21st centuries. Paris has some very innovative modern gardens/parks including Parc Andre Citron, Parc de la Villette and Jardin Atlantique but they barely rate a few lines in most guidebooks.

  5. I am grateful to hear about this amazing part of Paris, Tim. I always want to find new things to see when I visit there. Sometimes the headiness of all the art and fashion, food and history of Paris leaves you pining for the quiet and calm and restfulness of a garden walk. Merci beaucoup.

  6. Thanks. I feel the same about London. Great to enjoy the hustle and bustle, and access to some of the world’s great culture, but also wonderful to have the Greens and parks that allow the city (and us) to breath a little….

  7. Well, thank you Tim – fascinating stuff. Am staying at home this year to re-group, but now the plans for 2014 have expanded to include Seoul, which everyone keeps mentioning, and of course the High Line in New York. Perhaps I could go to Europe one way and back the other, now that I have to include France! Good to hear about something other than green walls in Paris. The joys of living on the other side of the world and, yes, it can be quite difficult to find out about interesting gardens to visit in other places. Here in NZ I recommend the Gardens Trust website: http://www.gardens.org.nz/. Extra tick for the restaurant mention – thank you!

  8. Thanks Rose. Your recommendation about that site for gardens in NZ is very timely – I was just asked by colleague here at Kew about what gardens they should visit. It will be a shame to leave UK and Europe in a few weeks but I’m looking forward to returning to Melbourne to rediscover Australia, and New Zealand… Tim

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