Bois de Boulogne in Paris
The Bois de Boulogne is a park located along the western edge of the 16th arrondissement of Paris, near the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt and Neuilly-sur-Seine
The Bois de Boulogne covers an area of 8.459 km2, which is 2.5 times larger than Central Park in New York, and comparable in size to Richmond Park in London.
The northern part of the Bois de Boulogne is occupied by the Jardin d'Acclimatation, an amusement park with a ménagerie and other attractions.
At night time, the area becomes one of Paris's most prominent red-light districts, though in recent years the French government has sought to eliminate prostitution in the park.
The Bois de Boulogne is full of activities on the weekends. Such as biking, jogging, boat rowing, remote control speed boats, picnics are held but barbecues are not allowed privately.
During summer season the Bois holds a 3 day weekend party in the month of July with over 50 bands and singers, this is attended mostly by students that camp out overnight.
The Bois de Boulogne are a remnant of the ancient oak forest of Rouvray, which was first mentioned in 717 in the charter of Compiègne. The lands were given by Childeric II to the powerful Abbey of Saint-Denis, which founded a number of monasteries in the woodlands. Philip Augustus bought back the main part of the forest from the monks of St Denis to create a royal hunting reserve on Crown lands. In 1256, Isabelle de France, sister of Saint-Louis, founded Longchamp.
During the Hundred Years' War, the forest became the haunt of robbers. In 1416-17 troops of the Duke of Burgundy burned part of Rouvray Forest. Under Louis XI, the estate, now called the Bois de Boulogne, was reforested and two roads were opened through it.
After King Francis I of France built the Château de Madrid (completed 1526) in the Bois de Boulogne, the woodlands became a site of festivities, though highwaymen could make the roads that led through it dangerous: the intrepid voyager Pierre Belon was murdered by thieves in the Bois de Boulogne in 1564. The hunting park was enclosed by walls under Henry II and Henry III, with eight gates. Henry IV planted 15,000 mulberry trees, with the hope of instigating a local silk industry. His repudiated wife Marguerite de Valois retired to her refuge in the Château de la Muette, in the Bois. In November 1783, from the grounds of the Château de la Muette, Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes made the first successful manned flight in a hot-air balloon built by the Montgolfier brothers.
In 1777 the Comte d'Artois, Louis XVI's brother, built the Château de Bagatelle in the Bois.
The site was made into a park by Napoleon III in 1852, and was financed by selling building lots along the north end of the Bois, in Neuilly, Under the direction of the Baron Haussmann, in the following years it was informally landscaped with open lawns and woodlands of hornbeam, beech, linden, cedar, chestnut and elm trees and hardy exotic species, like redwoods. Some aspects of the transformations were clearly the result of Louis Napoléon's exile in London: '"we must have a stream here, as in Hyde Park," he observed while driving through the Bois, "to give life to this arid promenade". All the formal allées -- with the exceptions of the Allée Reine Marguerite and the Avenue Longchamp—were made serpentine: there are thirty-five kilometres of footpaths, eight kilometres of cycle paths and twenty-nine kilometres of riding tracks. The upper and lower lakes, connected by a waterfall, were created; the excavated earth was used to create the Butte Montmartre. Between 1855 and 1858, the Hippodrome de Longchamp was built on the plain of the same name.
At the 1900 Summer Olympics, the land hosted the croquet and tug of war events.
The Bois de Boulogne was officially annexed by the city of Paris in 1929 and incorporated into the 16th arrondissement. (Like the Bois de Vincennes, it is however generally not counted as part of Paris proper, since it consists of public land only, with no population except for custodians.)
The park held its first motor race after the Second World War in 1945: the Paris Cup.
Points of interest
- Hippodrome de Longchamp
- Jardin d'Acclimatation
- Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil
- Bois de Boulogne: city in mountain region of Lebanon (Arabic: Ghābat Būlūnyā), 33 km from Beirut
- Bois de Vincennes
- Château de Bagatelle
- Michael Oborne, "History of the Château de la Muette" in the Bois de Boulogne, OECD
- Jocelen Janon, "A Brief History of Bagatelle" in the Bois de Boulogne, rosarosam.com