Buttes Chaumont, literally the &Mont chauve&, meaning bald hill, was a desolate mining site for centuries. In less than 150 years, it was turned from a bandits’ lair into one of the boiggest, most original and attractive parks of the city, welcoming hipster youth, families and romantics in search of atmosphere, which you will not find in any other green area of the city. The main reason is its topography, which derives directly from its historic function as a mining site. It is both beautiful and one of the less well known parks, given its isolated location and the fact that it is far from most Parisian touristic sites. Also, you need to take 2 metro lines to reach it from many parts of the city.
Since the Middle Ages, the site of Buttes Chaumont was one of a stone quarry, mostly gypsum, for building purposes. It was also used in order to build a part of the monuments in Paris. Sacre Coeur in Montmartre is one of those. Since BC was out of the city limits at the time, it was more of a no man’s land; and bandits and thieves of all sorts would use the extraction galleries and surroundings as hiding places. It was only under Napoleon III, and the undertaking of huge changes in the urban planning of the city, that the district of Belleville was attached to the city, including the site of the park.
The man in charge, the city prefect Haussmann, put the engineer Davioud in charge of turning the site into a park. The latter surrounded hims. elf with the architect Alphand, the gardener Deschamps, and another engineer Belgrand, in order to change the locale inot what it is today, in a matter of a few years. The work started in 1863, when the site was purchased by the state, and the park was inaugurated in 1867 this is not just any park, either: almost 62 acres in size, it is the 5th biggest park in Paris. Furthermore, it is one of the most successful examples of English gardens in the city. It took over a million cubic meters of earth to cover its stony site and make it possible for trees to grow and sustain themselves in what had been a hostile environment for plants. A lake was created by diverting the course of three streams, one of which flows directly from the Villette canal in the far north east corner of the city.
Butte Chaumont is the Parisian park that has the greatest variations in height (130 feet), and given its specific location, it offers, at certain points, some of the best panoramic views of the city, second only to Montmartre in terms of a natural viewing point. Therefore it will bring you, more than any other park in town, a soothing sense of relief from the busy city.
The melancholy and romance portrayed by the park is illustrated by an anecdote: during the 19th century, an estranged lover committed suicide by jumping off of the highest point of the park, a neo-antique shaped gazebo at the very top of its highest hill. The gazebo is still there, and is one of the most symbolic and visible elements of the park.
Last, but not least, the Buttes Chaumont park offers one of the biggest displays of plants available in any standard park of Paris. Its variety of birds is also impressive. It is the only park in town which gives you this eery sense of adventure. Because of the slopes and variety of landscapes, you can get lost and each new road is a total discovery with its own rewards… ultimately, it is far more known to Parisians than to tourists, so you are sure not to be hassled at all… a park for romantics, city and nature lovers!
Park opening hours: Open every day Summer hours: May 1st to September 30th 7:00am to 10:00pm Winter hours: September 30th to April 30th 7:00am to 8:00pm Access: Metro line 7bis, Botzaris or Buttes Chaumont stop; or line 5 and stop at Laumieres station then walk shortly. Bus 48, 60 or 75. D.A