Paris, France: Public Spaces in the Right Bank

A little known fact about Paris is that it had a very long time ban on walking and therefore sitting on the grass in its numerous public parks, squares and gardens. Luckily, for locals and tourists alike, this ban was lifted in 1997 and hence most of its hundreds of parks and gardens are now available for everyone to enjoy a picnic or a drink (alcoholic or otherwise) on the grass. To help guide your next trip to Paris, here are five popular outdoor spaces in the right bank that are great for having a drink, people watching or enjoy an outdoor concert.

Parc de la Villette:

It is the biggest public park in Paris and the biggest public green space, after bois de Bologne and bois de Vincennes (the two humanmade forests on either end of the city). The park dates to the early 1980s and is adjacent to the Canal Ourcq. The park is home to the City of Science and Industry and the Conservatoire de Paris, along with other large concerts venues. Thanks to its large space, it is used for various cultural and entertainment events around the year. In the summers, some musical concerts, festivals and even an outdoor cinema are hosted there; many are free of charge. It makes an ideal location for a picnic and public drinking is allowed.

Jardin de Tuileries:

The second largest public garden in Paris, adjacent the Louvre Museum. It was created as a private garden for the Tuileries Palace, under the request of Catherine de Medicis, wife of King Henry II in the sixteenth century. Later, it was opened for the public and ironically it was largely used as a gathering space for revolutionaries in the eighteenth century. Today, with its beautiful manicured lawn, it is the perfect space to enjoy a sunny afternoon in the French capital. Alcohol consumption is prohibited in the garden, but it is ideal for picnics, you will even find couple of stands to buy snacks.

Parc des Buttes Chaumont:

The third biggest public green space in is Paris. It was developed under the supervision of emperor Napoleon the third, who ordered that this former limestone mine to be turned to a public garden. It is largely modelled after gardens in London, with an artificial grotto and waterfalls and a large artificial lake. This park is a perfect space to spend an afternoon especially on warm days. It has a large network of paths and two bridges that lead to the tiny Temple de La Sybille modeled after the famous Temple of Vesta in Italy, a good viewpoint to have a look at the city from above.

Canal St. Martin:

Originally created in 1802 in order to supply Paris with drinking water, Canal St. Martin connects Canal Ourcq to the Seine and serves as a popular touristic destination. There are many cafes and restaurants along the canal that extends over 4.5 km. The sides of the canal are also a great outdoor space for picnics and hangout especially during the day with people watching the locks and the passage of boats. The area is popular for students and public drinking is allowed.

Place des Vosges:

Located in the Marais, one of Paris’ most popular districts, it is the first square built in Paris. Inaugurated in 1612, it was Place Royale with the Queen Pavilion on the North side and the King Pavilion on the South side. Prominent figures such as Victor Hugo, Mme de Sevigne and Alphonse Daudet lived in various apartments there. The large grass court that once hosted duels is now a popular hangout space for locals, tourists as well as the children from the nearby nursery.

While most of these spaces are accessible to the public for a large part of (if not all) day, keep in mind that the use of musical instruments is actually prohibited.

Crystel Hajjar Written by:

Crystel is a freelance writer and a journalist with a background in environmental politics. As a quadrilingual with a passion for learning and exploring, she is convinced that travel is the best form of education. After graduating from the University of Ottawa and working in an office for a few years, Crystel spent the last couple of years traveling and has been to over 25 cities in four continents. Currently, Crystel lives in Paris, exploring this unique city, its history and culture and practicing her nearly fluent French. When not exploring and making obserevations, Crystel enjoys reading, knitting, vegetarian cooking, beer sampling, jogging, biking and blogging. You can read more about Crystel’s adventure at or follow her on twitter @crystel_hajjar