Paris is an ocean; you can try to fathom it but you will never know
its real depth. Wander through it, describe it as you may, there
will always remain an undiscovered place, an unknown retreat, flowers,
pearls, monsters, something unheard of.
—Honoré de Balzac
One of our great newfound "hidden treasures" is the very large (it was the dark "claw" on the satellite picture other day) Parc des Buttes Chaumont near our neighborhood; unlike many Parisian parks, it is neither overcrowded nor overly developed (the French-style "gardens" everywhere else, with their calf-height geometric hedges, get old after a very short while), and has instantly become our favorite retreat. The park was commissioned by Napoléon III and built by Baron Haussmann between 1864 and 1868.
The "butte" in question is a large hill in the northeastern part of the city, from which you have an unusual but still compelling view over the city; it's hard to make out, but dead center you can just see Sacré-Coeur in the distance.
It also makes the walk a bit more hilly than others, although still quite enjoyable.
It's not all wild and unkempt; around the artificial lake, there are a great many cultivated trees, including the bonsai behind E.
There's a high stone bridge leading to an island in the lake.
There's also an equally precipitous swaying footbridge.
Perhaps it was too swaying; not long ago, the government declared it unsafe for pedestrians and ordered it closed. Quel dommage.
Regardless of how you get across, once you're on the island, you can make your way up to the tower overlooking the park, as many folks do.
One of the highlights of the park is the 95-foot waterfall. Of course, like everything else here, it's entirely artificial, stalactites in the cave and all, but it's no less refreshing to stand in front of.
The office of the mayor of the 19e arrondissement is here, overlooking the lake.
Hey...if you had to choose between an industrial park and this for your bay window view, which would you choose?
Lots of the walkways pass over and under each other, so it can be a challenge to keep track of where you've been.
It's a popular spot for families, whether to watch their kids frolic in the babbling brook (which babbles in French, I guess)...
...or pursuing other interests.
All in all, a very relaxing retreat, and one we plan to spend many a weekend at.
On the way out, we stopped by a nearby cluster of small, villagelike houses and pedestrian thoroughfares on our way back to the Métro; Propes was glad to stumble upon Villa Claude Monet.
The Other Paris