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Paris: Exploring Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Donning faux fur, let’s channel our inner-La Salle and explore Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (Photo by T. Brack)

First Stop: Marrons grilles! My Treat! (Votre Amie Marie France, January 1948, Magazine, T. Brack’s archives)

First Stop: Marrons grilles! My Treat! (Votre Amie Marie France, January 1948, Magazine, T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora “La Salle” Brack

Ernest Hemingway once said, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus, you remember them as they actually are.”

But that goes double for traveling by foot, especially at my favorite sacred stomping ground, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont—the hilliest, and perhaps most weirdly “scenic” park in Paris.

This week, I’d like to take you along for the excursion, so grab my hand. Let’s take a restorative, explorative stroll, shall we? Donning head-to-toe faux fur, get ready to channel your inner-surrealist.

It’s time to rumble!

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Designed in 1867 by Emperor Napoleon III, engineer Jean-Charles Alphand, and horticulturist Jean-Pierre Barillet-Deschamps, this floral showstopper with its mountain-village vibe opened with razzle-dazzle during the launch of the Paris Universal Exposition.

This park has everything: As we make our way along its narrow winding paths, prepare to be bug-eyed at sights ranging from caverns complete with waterfalls and faux stalactites, to a lake fashioned from a former gypsum quarry surrounding a craggy island topped with a neo-Roman temple, reached by a suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel himself.

Île de la Belvédère and Temple de la Sibylle, inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Italy (Photo by T. Brack)

Île de la Belvédère and Temple de la Sibylle, inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Italy (Photo by T. Brack)

Take me back, back, back

As we roll along listening to the waterfalls and cooing rendezvouses, keep watch for the spirits of surrealists André Breton and Louis Aragon. They were known to have fancied Butte-Chaumont’s poetic, dreamlike vibe above all other Parisian parks. They loved reveling in its artificial ruins after dark, with the ghostly Sacré Coeur looming in full view.

“A mirage! An oasis in the city!” they wrote. Still true today, here is where I often find transformative peace.

And that’s what you want in a trippy expedition: A new way of seeing things!

Tip: On sunny days, bring a picnic—no finer spots for dejeuner sur l’herbe can be found in the city. When the weather outside is frightful, get punchy indoors with the 202-year-old puppet Guignol and his rowdy entourage at the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont’s Théâtre Guignol Anatole. Before moving to this park in 1867, the same theater worked the crowds into laughing frenzies over on the Champs Élysées.

Happy Holidays!

“A mirage! An oasis in the city!” they wrote

Keep your peepers peeled for the spirits of the surrealists! (Photo by T. Brack)

Don’t jump! Le Pont de Briques (a.k.a., Suicide Bridge) A mesh netting now keeps daredevils and jumpers safely at bay (Photo by T. Brack)

Don’t jump! Le Pont de Briques (a.k.a., Suicide Bridge) A mesh netting now keeps daredevils and jumpers safely at bay (Photo by T. Brack)

Reflecting on Pont Suspendu designed by Gustave Eiffel! Yes, it is a small world! (Photo by T. Brack)

Reflecting on Pont Suspendu designed by Gustave Eiffel! Yes, it is a small world! (Photo by T. Brack)

Gotcha: The petite cascade with crafty handcrafted cement handrail (Photo by T. Brack)

Gotcha: The petite cascade with crafty handcrafted cement handrail (Photo by T. Brack)

Another shot of the petite cascade because, because one is never, ever enough (Photo by T. Brack)

Another shot of the petite cascade because, because one is never, ever enough (Photo by T. Brack)

Blurry shot of waterfalls under construction! (Shaky camera work because of spirit spotting!)

Soft shot of waterfalls in the grotto while under reconstruction! (Shaky camera work because of spirit spotting!)

Go tell it on the mountain: Now, let's trek it up to the Île de la Belvédère and Temple de la Sibylle (Photo by T. Brack

Go tell it on the mountain: Now, let’s trek it up to the Île de la Belvédère and Temple de la Sibylle (Photo by T. Brack)

Bonjour! Another spirited fashion plate spotted on the path of glory (T. Brack’s archives)

Bonjour! Another spirited fashion plate spotted on the path of glory (T. Brack’s archives)

Keep on moving! A rain shower is approaching! (Photo by T. Brack)

Keep on moving! A rain shower is approaching! (Photo by T. Brack)

Following suit, headed to the Temple de la Sibylle (Photo by T. Brack)

Hold on to the cement railing! Headed to the Temple de la Sibylle (Photo by T. Brack)

Detail shot: Gabriel Davioud's crafty handcrafted handrail made of concrete (Photo by T. Brack)

Detail shot: Gabriel Davioud’s crafty handcrafted handrail made of concrete (Photo by T. Brack)

We made it! However, love wasn't always in the air up here at the Temple de la Sibylle, former site of gallows (Photo by T. Brack)

We made it! However, love wasn’t always in the air up here at the Temple de la Sibylle, former site of the city gallows (Photo by T. Brack)

Now, let's take a self-portrait break at one of the many "faux bois" styled rain shelters! (Photo by T. Brack)

Now, let’s take a self-portrait break at one of the many “faux bois” styled rain shelters! (Photo by T. Brack)

Before leaving the park, let's get punchy with the 202-year-old puppet Guignol and his rowdy entourage at Théâtre Guignol Anatole (Photo by T. Brack)

Before leaving the park, let’s get punchy with the 202-year-old puppet Guignol and his rowdy entourage at Théâtre Guignol Anatole (Photo by T. Brack)

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51 thoughts on “Paris: Exploring Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

    • Bonjour! Well, thanks for strolling along with us today! Buttes-Chaumont is one of my favorite havens in the city. Surprises abound! In fact, I recently spied a cat on a leash! Apparently, it was Lana’s first walk through the park! She was having the time of her life. What a glamour puss! Leash color? Shocking hot pink, of course.

      Maybe I’ll post the portrait of Lana the Grumpy Cat. Stay tuned!

      Enjoy the weekend!
      Theadora

      Like

    • Merci, Sir! Yes, very tranquil. You’d love it. After my visits, my pen is always inspired. Typewriter, too.

      And speaking of inspiration, keep on writing beautiful prose!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hey T! Thank you for the lovely stroll. I agree with Hemingway though and love biking. My idea of a perfect day is biking (with a basket of course) with my honey, my pups, some cheeses, wine and a picnic blanket. Now, this park would be the perfect spot for that. Love all your gorgeous photos and hope to visit one day. :).

    Hope you and yours are enjoying a lovely holiday season.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello, Brigitte!

      Your idea of a perfect day is my idea of a perfect day: Bread, cheese, cookies, and mulled wine, along with a book and a magazine. And YES. You would love the park. Here is where I experienced my very first jog in Paris. Years ago, but I’m still able to recall colors of the trees and sky. And the songs on my little portable radio! Heaven!

      Happy Holidays!
      T.

      Like

  2. I slipped into my red hiking boots. The ones with the purple laces. This was going to be a walk in a hilly wonderland. The knapsack is filled with delicacies – a rough, country pate, some dark salty olives and crusty baguettes too long to fit entirely into my sack. Tin Man has the wine. Beaujolais of course. We have mounted an expedition to join Theadora in her favorite Paris park.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Beaujolais nouveau! ’Tis the season! Excellent choice, dear Virginia and Monsieur Tin Man. I’m here at the park, patiently waiting by the main entrance at Place Armand-Carrel. With my camera and sketchbook in hand, I am people-watching.

      Inside my black Longchamp bag, I’ve got sparkling wine and little metal picnic cups, along with Comté, Cantal, and chocolate. After you arrive, we’ll make a beeline to one of the rain shelters. A storm is a-brewing, I think.

      But we’ll have fun—rain or shine. It’s Paris, after awe!
      Theadora

      (Do you have a favorite picnic cheese?)

      Like

      • The Tin Man cut crisp thick slices from the baguette loaf. She smeared Roquefort cheese thickly on her bread. Ah! Heaven! She raised her glass to the Tin Man and Theadora. The best picnic ever!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Monsieur Tin Man agrees! He has much to comment on CHRISTMAS DECOR INSPIRED BY MY LITTLE HOUSE IN PARIS. When it comes to bubbly Tinny knows how to finish off a picnic in the park. XXX V.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, do add Buttes-Chaumont to your list! It would be very interesting to see the park through your lens. By the way, I’m still enjoying your recent Paris photo essays. Gorgeous. Gorgeous.

      Alexander, the park is located in the 11th arrondissement. I recommend exiting at the Pyrénees Métro station. It’s about a ten minute walk. depending on the traffic lights and photogenic sights. You’ll enjoy it, I do believe.

      Enjoy the holidays! And keep on snapping!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A mirage and oasis in the city indeed! It is hard to believe that this is in Paris. You do as well photographing nature as you do city street scenes and fashion. Off the usual path for you but I loved it! Well done! It seems magical.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, thank you for thoughtful words! Off the usual path! I love it. You made my day! My week!
      Buttes-Chaumont still a very popular promenading place. An absolutely fabulous spot for people-watching—especially after work and one hair before the dinner hour. Male and female fashion plates—right, left, and center!

      Benches, too!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent words! Again, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is located in the 11th arrondissement, not far from Belleville. I always take the Métro to the Pyrénées stop. Visiting Paris sometime in the future? Don’t miss it.

      Do you have a favorite park in the city?!
      Theadora

      Like

      • I may be there next summer. Definitely will make the trip to the park. I usually stay in the 9th arrondissement. I like the park at St Cloud- but mainly because of the Rock en Seine music festival. Great city.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Merci! Thanks roll-rolling along the hills of Buttes-Chaumont with us! (Stay tuned for the pic of Lana the grumpy kitty cat, out and about on her first stroll through the park.)

      Enjoy the weekend and holidays!
      Theadora

      Like

  4. Merci beaucoup for the walk, T! It’s the perfect thing on this cold winter day in the Chicago area. By Hemingway’s standards, my husband knows a lot, as he’s cycled over 3,000 miles again this year.

    I think of you sometimes at work, as I’m working at a shop that wouldn’t be scorned in Paris, Le Chocolat de Bouchard, https://www.lechocolatdubouchard.com/, right in downtown Naperville. I’m the person pronouncing “macarons” in the French manner, rather than as “macaroons.” 🙂

    A most merry Christmas to you, T., and a 2018 filled with blessings!

    janet

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for joining us on the stroll, Janet! And YES. I agree! The perfect activity on a cold winter day in Chicago is a stroll. I still have my lucky black top, purchased on the Magnificent Mile. Years ago! But I still wear it often. I also love your Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art.

      And now I’m missing Chicago, so I will take a peek at your Le Chocolat de Bouchard. What a great name!

      Happy, Happy Holidays, Janet!!

      (3,000 miles?! Wow. I’m impressed!!)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Merci! It was a fun stroll to create. And now I’m obsessed, obsessed with the explorer La Salle.

      So stay tuned for another expedition!
      T.

      (And I’m also totally digging your Instagram page. Thanks for the daily inspiration!!)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is my idea of a perfect stroll, exploring and seeing Buttes-Chaumont through your eyes Theadore – imaging the history among the glorious landscape and pathways. You have given us a reprieve and a place to rest. A lovely time today – looking forward to more expeditions!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. LOVELY post, as usually… ❤ we lived in Paris for several years, and we used to stroll around Buttes Chaumont… 🙂
    * * *
    1000 MERCI for dropping by my virtual playground and for your kind wishes… my very best for 2018: santé, joie, paix, amour, chance et… des tonnes d'inspiration! 🙂 amicalement, Mélanie Bedos-Toulouse

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What an excellent exploration. You are a terrific guide. I can feel the spirits in your photographs. Suicide bridge and former gallows ensures there are roaming spirits. Happy New Year Theadora and thanks for your visits snd likes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As always, thanks for your kind, kind words, Ruth! And daily inspiration, too.

      Happy New Year!
      Theadora

      (Is Flat Ruthie still on the road, globe trekking?!)

      Like

    • Hello! Thanks for popping by the site for the stroll YES. I’m also a fan of Parc Monceau. Great-looking ruins and statues, too! The perfect spot for a picnic.

      Happy New Year!
      Theadora

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bonne année. Again. Yes Monceau has a special flavour. I played there as a kid in the summer. My daughters too when they were little. Later, when in Paris, they would go running there. And pcinics with saucisson are a must. Cheers.
        (The Seine is rising again quite a lot, right?) Where do you live? Porte de vanves? Or did I dream that?

        Like

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