City life can be tiring, and a day might come when you’ll feel like taking a rest from Paris. Here’s a secret place you can go to enjoy the soothing powers of nature, all this without even leaving Paris. This place is nearly a secret because it was created fairly recently, in the 80’s and 90’s. To make it even more secret, the maps and signs you’ll see in Paris don’t all call it by it’s official name, which is La Coulée Verte Réné Dumont, but call it by the two names that were first used, Viaduc des Arts for a section and Promenade Plantée for another.
La Coulée Verte replaced the tracks of a railway line which ceased to be used in 1969. It is now a pleasant 4,7 kilometers long promenade (2,9 miles), where you feel very far away from Paris.
It is not at all a monotonous strip. As a matter of fact, it is made of very diverse sections:
The first one, also known as Viaduc des Arts starts close to the Opéra Bastille (situated close to our residences Bastille and Marjorelle), on rue de Lyon. In order to reach it, you’ll have to go up the stairs of what looks like a building with Viaduc des Arts written in large letters. And there it is, like a long, endless terrace, covered with numerous bushes and trees. You can observe people taking a stroll, jogging, or just relaxing on the many benches. Soon, you’ll reach basins surrounded by bushes and flowers. Ducks use them to take a wash, sparrows to take a drink. But above all, the viaduct is an ideal observation point to study the architecture of Parisian buildings. The path is elevated to the height of the third floor of the surrounding buildings and therefore you can easily see details of the elaborate roofs of the Haussmannien buildings, with their strange decorations, roof accesses and walkways for the chimney sweeps.
Next, you’ll cross a park named Jardin de Reuilly-Paul-Pernin. It is an amazing collection of little gardens built around different themes. You might choose to go over it using a modern bridge that bounces a little. But should you choose to visit the parc, you must take a look at La Pétillante, which is a fountain where you can fill a recipient with Parisian water, either at room temperature, or cool or as fizzy water. This treat being free, many locals come to fill their bottles, as if were spring water.
Next, you’ll reach the section of Allée Vivaldi. It is at street level and has a more classical look, as it is a long park in the middle of a sreet. However, should you want to have a meal, Allée Vivaldi offers a fantastic choice of restaurants: Ristorante Bella Tavola, Jodhpur Palace, Le Village Corse, Les Jardins de Manchourie and Le Janissaire, the latter being specialized in Turkish gastronomy.
Now, you are ready for the last and most extravagant section, the part which was first baptized La Promenade Plantée. It is a paradise for nature lovers, with a large variety of plants, carefully arranged in an organized mess. Bikers and joggers haven’t been forgotten and the track is divided in two partitions, one side is paved, the other covered in compacted clay. Should you want to watch a game of boules (a very French specialty) you might catch a group of “boulistes” playing on the dedicated “terrain de boulistes”. Or you could try one of the exercise machines to work out, thus entertaining the groups of people relaxing on the nearby benches.
La coulée Verte ends with another park named Square Charles Péguy. Should you not feel like walking back to Bastille, the nearest metro station is Porte Dorée.
Whatever you do, don’t get locked in as La Coulée Verte is closed at night! Check the closure times indicated on the boards as they range from 5.45 p.m. in winter to 9.30 p.m. in summer.
All photo credits to James Neidert.