Located just within the Eastern outskirts of the city of Paris, lies one of the city’s most beautiful and interactive green areas. Spanning almost 40 square miles, Bois de Vincennes is the largest park within Paris surpassing the more well-known, but significantly smaller, Bois de Boulogne (only about 3.4 square miles). It can be accessed through the Porte Dorée along the outer border of the 12th arrondissement. This wondrous place is not your typical park. The urban park includes many entertainment options and attractions for the public making it suitable for anyone's needs or mood. These attractions include a cycling and horse-racing stadium, a botanical garden, arboretum and even a zoo. It offers leisure as well as sports activities, and beautiful nature scenes that house hundreds of various species that you won’t be able to find within the city.
The history of this park spans as far back as the 12th century. A large part of Bois de Vincennes is the Château de Vincennes, which was built in 1340. Charles V was the first to settle and make the building proper royal housing. At the time, Bois De Vincennes was just known as a wooded area surrounding the royal property. It wasn’t technically turned into a public park until after the revolution, under Napoleon III. In more recent times, the park was also a major location for the 1900 Summer Olympics. Most events took place within Cipale Vélodrome, a large cycling stadium that the park offers. This velodrome was also the finish line for the Tour de France between 1968 to 1974. Today, the park is open all day, everyday, to anyone willing to come and enjoy the peacefulness.
A primary area of the park is the Parc Zoologique de Paris, known as France’s largest and most astonishing zoo. This zoo is none like your average either. It is sectioned into five different biomes offering an unimaginable amount of diverse species of not only animals, but plants and insects. Parisians, or any tourists, can get a taste of numerous contrasting species from around the world in select climates, all in one area near them. This immersive zoo includes spaces of free roaming which allow visitors to even get up close to certain animals and insects such as giraffes, jaguars, reptiles, rhinos, an extraordinary number of types of birds, and more. Bois De Vincennes contains spaces, atmospheres and or attractions that can be difficult to find anywhere else. The park also has four lakes. Lake Daumesnil being the largest of them then, Lac de Gravelle, Lac des Minimes, and Lake Saint-Mandé. All lakes connect together with a span of rivers, carving out beautiful scenic walkways throughout the forest as well. This park offers many physical activities such as running, walking, and biking trails which carry all throughout the park.
Bois de Vincennes is another world within Paris. This park is an escape from the city offering fresh air, shaded spaces, and never-ending paths through the majestic greenery of nature.