If there’s something the Parisians get absolutely right, it’s putting together a park. The Champ de Mars is a glorious example of a symmetrically designed leisure space where tourists, locals, buskers and pickpockets gather together on summer days to picnic, sunbathe and socialise in the sun.
Of course for some, this type of green space can feel awkward, artificial and structured. Mother Nature is present, but under the strict supervision of the town hall.
There is one park in central Paris that rejects this formality and not many people know about it – I had been in Paris for six years before I discovered the majestic beauty of the Jardin Sauvage.
Centuries ago, the hillside quartier now known as Montmartre was covered in lush green forest. Gradually as the urban sprawl stretched upwards from the Seine, small villages and towns were engulfed, becoming part of the Haussmanien metropolis.
Fearful of losing the city’s natural heritage, a group of smart minds proposed saving the Montmartre Forest before it was too late. A small section of it (2,000 square metres) has been preserved and is now the Jardin Sauvage Saint Vincent. It was formally laid out in 1985 and is only open to the public at certain times of year.
When it was constructed in the 1980s, the city created a pond and a path and then let Mother Nature decide the rest – perhaps a nice compromise for the mowers and secateurs that attack her in the Champ de Mars. Many species of insects, birds and small animals have made the space their home but possibly the most amazing fact to note is that none of the greenery has been planted by human hand. The trees, bushes and flowers all grow naturally and are only tended by gardeners in exceptional circumstances.
A popular place for nature lovers, city school groups learning about biodiversity and the ever-increasing green-leaning population, this is one park that is well worth a visit.
To check opening times and access, visit the website for full information.