19th arrondissement of Paris : discover the Buttes Chaumont

19th arrondissement of Paris : discover the Buttes Chaumont

It's one of the largest (25 hectares !) green spaces in Paris, yet there are fewer tourists than in other gardens in the capital... The Parc des Buttes Chaumont, in the 19th arrondissement, is a wonderful place to take a stroll, punctuated by memories of a much less happy time in the early centuries of its existence. Let's go for a tour. 

Before it became the park we know today, this quarry area was in fact a rather ugly place... These former gypsum quarries, then known as the "Colline du Mont Chauve", were the place where the bodies of those condemned to death were left, and the galleries dug into the millstone - very useful for constructing Parisian buildings - were used as hideouts for local bandits and as a public dump

It was under the rule of Napoleon III that everything changed. The president-emperor wanted to banish insalubrity from the capital and provide a green lung for the working class ; he undertook a real park project on the site, entrusted to the engineer Jean-Charles Alphand. The Belleville district (where the quarry was located) became part of Paris in 1861, works began in 1864 and the new park was inaugurated three years later to coincide with the 1867 Universal Exhibition.

The Belvedere kiosk - Lucia LINET CIMA / Unsplash

A colossal amount of work was undertaken to give it the appearance we know today... The lake is completely artificial, fed by three streams, one of which comes from the Bassin de la Villette. In the middle is an enormous rocky mass, beneath which is a grotto, artificial to be sure, but built from an old quarry entrance. It has a waterfall (also artificial), as well as fake cement stalactites. But the place is still surprising enough to be very enjoyable.

From now on, the Buttes Chaumont park will be synonymous with views over Paris - from the Belvédère kiosk inspired by the temple of Vesta at Tivoli - family walks and picnics with friends. The park is still very steep, and local runners like to train in its paths because of the difference in altitude. The park is also home to an impressive suspension bridge, three restaurants and play areas for children.

Cover picture : Yannis Sommera / Unsplash
Text : Elodie Lécadieu