Parc du Champ-de-Mars

A Site of Violence, Parades, and Iconic Touristic Views

Arguably one of the most well known and iconic symbols of both Paris and France is Parc du Champ-de-Mars. It is a rectangular shaped public green space stretching from the Eiffel Tower to the Ecole Militaire. It is a place, an image, known to most around the world. It lies in the shadow and is like a red carpet rolled out for the Eiffel Tower.

Parc du Champ de Mars lies in the neighborhood of Les Invalides, in the 7th arrondisement a neighborhood once ruled by the people society had forgotten in the 17th and 18th centuries due to hospital located within the neighborhood to care for the severely injured soldiers. That hospital remains operational today. Also, in the neighborhood is the Ecole Militaire. It is a military school that opened in 1760 and was purposefully designed to train young men from the lower end of the socioeconomic end of the spectrum. The grounds of Parc du Champ de Mars were once used as training grounds as well. The schools remains in operation today as a military training academy. In its current state, the neighborhood is one of the most desirable areas to live in Paris and a draw for tourists from around the globe. The green space of the park is filled with reflecting pools, pedestrian walkways, all varieties of perennials and annuals as well as symmetrically and extraordinarily pruned hybrid sycamore trees.

The park opened in 1780 and was named in tribute to the Roman God of War: Mars. At about 103 acres in size ,the land the park currently encompasses was originally known as Grenelle and served as a market garden, or community garden where plots of land could be claimed by an individual for growing purposes. In 1791, during the French Revolution, the French National Assembly issued a decree declaring that King Louis XVI would remain monarch. Those opposing the decree gathered at the park and upon not dispersing after warning shots, the French National Guard opened fire on the crowd. This event is known as the Champ de Mars Massacre. It was loyalist Marquis de Lafayette who lead the charge against the rebels. The name may sound familiar to Americans because it is the same General Lafayette who commanded American troops in several battles during the American Revolution. Descendants of his family still own property on the park, Hermitage Apartment Rental.

Modern improvements add more flavor to the historic nature of the park. Barriers have been added in various locations to thwart terrorist attacks by automobile. In the year 2000, the Wall of Peace was constructed as a symbol of welcome. It is located at the far southeastern flank of the park and remains today, although it was initially meant to be temporary. Modern uses of the park include typical passive uses and the site is also used for large public events such as concerts, fireworks displays, and to show sports events on giant screens such as the 2018 Euro World Cup game.