Bois de Boulogne

Royal Woods on the West of Town

Bois de Boulogne island, Paris

Bois de Boulogne

Metro: Porte Dauphine; Porte d'Auteuil

Arrondissement: Western border of the 16eme

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Map of the Area

The Bois de Boulogne, the Woods of Boulogne, is a part of what was the Forest of Rouvray that surrounded the Gallo-Roman city of Lutece.

The Forest of Rouvray was named for the type of oak trees found there, the querus robur. It was given its present name in the 14th century by Philippe IV.

The name "Boulogne" comes from a sanctuary dedicated to Notre-Dame de Boulogne le Petit built by Philippe le Bel.

Merovingian king Childeric II donated this land to the Abbey of Saint Denis and so became the site of many monastaries to come.

In the 13th century, Philippe Auguste bought a part of the forest from the monks to establish a hunting grounds.

Bois de Boulogne pathway bridge, Paris

This area was enclosed by walls by Henri II and Henri III.

Henri IV made his contribution to the area by planting 15,000 blackberry bushes.

It was during the reign of Louis XIV that the Bois was first opened to the public.

Fishermen in Bois de Boulogne, Paris

The ancient oak trees had all been felled by 1814, providing fire wood to the occupying foreign armies and for the Parisians themselves over the years. Louis XIV also felled many trees for the building of ships for the royal navy.

In 1848, it became the property of the state and was gifted to the City of Paris in 1852. Between 1852-1855, Baron Haussmann created the Bois de Boulogne as it is today. Two lakes connected by a waterfall were built. The Lower Lake contains two islands which are connected by a footbridge.

Boats in Bois de Boulogne, Paris

Row-boats are available for rent here from mid-February to mid-November, Monday-Friday, 12-5:30 p.m. and on week-ends, 10-5:30 p.m. Rental fees start at 10 euros for one hour, increasing approximately 4 euros for each following half-hour, topping at 45.50 euros for five hours rental time.

Thousands of trees and shrubs were planted including oaks, locusts and chery tree, hornbeams, beeches, limes, cedars, plane trees, acacias, redwoods, chestnuts and elms. Thirty-five kilometers of footpaths, eight kilometers of cycle paths and twenty-nine kilometers of horse-riding trails weave through large lawns and patches of forest.

Bois de Boulogne greenspace, Paris

Within the Bois de Boulogne is found the Pre Catelan, the Catelan Meadow. The name most likely comes from the time of Louis XIV. The Captain of the Hunts of Bois de Boulogne was Theophile Catelan and he lived in the Chateau de la Muette. The garden of Pre Catelan was created during the time of Napoleon III.

In 1856, Nestor Roqueplan developed an Amusement Park in the Bois and an open air theatre called the Theatre of Flowers. Its run was finished by 1870.

Between 1855-1858 the Longchamp Race Course was built.

In 1951, the Shakespeare Garden and Theatre opened. Sections of the Garden surrounding the Theatre are inspired by several of the Bard's plays. The "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Tempest" gardens represent Mediterranean and Greek locales, where these two plays took place. The gardens named "Macbeth" and '"Hamlet" contain plant-life found in Scotland. The garden "As You Like It" recalls the Arden Forest, north of Stratford on Avon, where this play takes place.

Bois de Boulogne cafe, Paris

There are several elegant restaurants found here, as well as snack-stands and cafes. There are also children's playgrounds.

Heron in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris

The Bois de Boulogne is also an excellent place for bird-watching.

Bois de Boulogne covers an area of 8.4 square kilometers, 3.2 square miles. It is 2.5 times larger than Central Park in New York City and 3.3 times larger than Hyde Park in London.

This park and the Bois de Vincennes on the east side of town are the two largest "green areas" of Paris.

Bois de Boulogne sculpture, Paris

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