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Along with the Bois de Vincennes, the Bois de Boulogne represents a green lung of Paris. A former hunting preserve of the kings of France, this place has become in 1852 the largest park on the west of Paris. With a surface area of 850 hectares, the Bois de Boulogne includes the Parc de Bagatelle, The Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil, the Pré-Catelan and the Jardin d'Acclimatation. This park also offers numerous paths for a walk, some 28 kilometers of bridleways and 15 kilometers of cycling routes. Lots of playgrounds and picnic areas are also on your disposition, and the park has several artificial lakes where you can rent a rowboat. In the Bois de Boulogne, you will also find numerous gourmand restaurants.
Previously a hunting preserve of the French kings, the Bois de Boulogne became famous after the Montgolfier brothers, the inventors of the Montgolfière-style hot air balloon, launched from there the first free manned flight in 1783. And finally, this place has become a public park in 1852 thanks to the French Emperor Napoleon III. At that time, Paris had only four public parks and all in the center of the city, so the Bois de Boulogne immediately became popular among Parisians, and many artists have found the inspiration in it. This park appears in “Nana”, a novel by Emile Zola and in “Education Sentimentale” by Gustav Flaubert. And in his novel “À la recherche du temps perdu”, Marcel Proust describes a walk around the lakes of the Bois de Boulogne. The life in the park was also a subject of the paintings of many artists, like Manet, Renoir and Van Gogh. Today, this place is especially popular during the sunny weekends, when the Bois de Boulogne is full of people who are jogging, biking, boat rowing, riding horses and ponies and picnicking.
In the heart of the Bois de Boulogne, you will find The Parc de Bagatelle. This is one of the four botanical gardens in Paris and a very popular place among the lovers of relaxing walks. Created in 1775, here you can admire a magnificent rose garden with 10.000 rosebushes from 1.200 different species. Located at the southern edge of the park, you will find The Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil, a beautiful botanic garden that housesthe collections of rare plants and trees. If you are a botany and horticulture lover, then you should definitely put this places on your “to-visit” list. The Jardin d'Acclimatation is an amusement park located in the northern part of the Bois de Boulogne. Created in 1860, the Jardin d'Acclimatation is a perfect combination of a beautiful landscape, cultural activities and an amusement park.
The Bois de Boulogne is free to access, except the Jardin d'Acclimatation, where the entrance is 5 euros (free for children under 3). There are many restaurants in the Bois de Boulogne. L’Auberge du Bonheur (the Happiness Inn) is a restaurant famous for its delicious cuisine and a beautiful garden, where you can have your lunch under the magnificent wisteria.
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