Alphand’s Parisian parks

Outings | A day in Paris | Nature
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The gardens of the capital 

Although today Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand (1817-1891) is little known to the general public because often overshadowed by Baron Haussmann’s figure, he deserves great credit for some of the charms of Paris. He was Haussmann’s faithful collaborator for the major Paris transformations commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III, planted the new avenues with trees, designed the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes and was at the origin of the most amazing Parisian parks: Parc MonceauParc des Buttes Chaumont on the right bank and Parc Montsouris on the left bank.  

Napoleon III, who had been to England, attached particular importance to the presence of gardens in the French capital: he wanted tree-planted streets, squares in the new Parisian districts and several large parks inside Paris walls, apart from those of the Tuileries and the Luxembourg. The construction of these three Parisian parks began at the same time in the 1860s.  

salon-agriculture-buttes-chaumont-paris-1160x627_parespritdefrance.jpgIf Le Parc Monceau, which we have already mentioned previously in this section, already partly existed, the other two parks were complete creations on underprivileged sites. The Buttes Chaumont, north of the capital, had long been the site of the sinister gallows of Montfaucon before being exploited as limestone quarries and then as a garbage dump. The site underwent a radical transformation thanks to a 2 hectare lake dominated by a 30 meter promontory. On the latter a rotunda was built, the “temple of Sybille”, giving great elegance to the whole site; a cave, a waterfall, two hanging bridges and flower plantations completed the design and gave it a somewhat romantic look
As for Parc Montsouris, south of Paris, it had to be set up against the fortifications and take into account the two railway lines that crossed it. Alphand designed three large lawns gently sloping to a large water pond which today hosts a wide variety of aquatic faunaBridges connected the different parts of the park and the railways were hidden. With its remarkable statues and trees, such as a cedar tree from Lebanon and a sequoia from the Americas, this is a place where young people -the University City is just nearby- as well as the not so young enjoy walking and relaxing.