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Explore the Arboretum de Paris

Explore the Arboretum de Paris

For a fun, budget-friendly activity for a sunny day, explore the Arboretum de Paris, a unique escape from the city. Founded in 1936, the Arboretum is located at the edge of the Bois de Vincennes (starting in Paris’s 12th arrondissement and extending to the suburbs). Besides being a quiet and serene escape from the hustle and bustle of Paris, the Arboretum is a lesser-known nature conservation and education area that is perfect for people of all ages and completely free to visit. 

This unique outdoor area spans nearly 13 hectares (about 32 acres) and includes both native and non-native species that flourish and cohabitate in the Parisian climate. You can visit the Arboretum in any season, as there is a blend of trees and plants that thrive at different times of the year. It’s included as part of the four sites of the Jardin Botanique de Paris (the Paris Botanical Garden) and plays an important role in history. While it was created in 1936, it was quickly used for other purposes, such as a market space during World War II. After the war, the Arboretum became active again as a nature conservation area, and trees were planted more regularly.

Over the years, this “living museum” has grown to include 1200 trees of 800 different species. And it continues to grow with new trees planted annually, as well as several rare species that have been periodically introduced over the years. 

The goal of the Arboretum is to enrich and promote biodiversity, provide a calming natural space to learn more about plants, and foster an appreciation of different plant species and ecosystems. Beyond trees and rare species, the Arboretum’s collections include wetland areas, ponds, hedges, grassland, and reeds. Of course, you can also find ducks, birds, pollinators, and other animals enjoying the Arboretum.

While there are maps located at the entrances of the Arboretum, the main trails are clearly marked and easy to follow. Be aware of joggers or bikers while on these wider trails. Smaller trails are less clearly marked but are perfect for exploring trees up close, catching a glimpse of animals like rabbits or squirrels, and finding some shade. In addition, there are many grassy areas that are well suited for picnics, and benches are located at varying intervals along the main trails.

For the budding gardener or those looking to improve their green thumb, gardening courses are available at the Arboretum, and students studying botany or biology often visit the area to examine different species and landscapes. For the casual wanderer, each tree is labeled with information such as its scientific name, French name, and location of origin. You can even learn about the histories surrounding different tree species, many of which have a connection to ancient religious myths and beliefs. 

In addition to being a haven for nature lovers and students, the Arboretum serves as a place to experiment with different types of soil and plants that could contribute to lowering France’s carbon footprint and promote environmental efforts. A dedicated area hosts these special plants and experiments, with signage explaining their purposes.

Taking a day to explore the Arboretum is sure to be relaxing, inspiring, and educational. While it may get busier throughout the summer months, visitors are welcome during any time of the year. The best way to get to the Arboretum from the city center is to take the RER A to Joinville-le-Pont. Take Exit 2 (Avenue des Canadiens) and walk 10 minutes to the nearest entrance of the Arboretum located at 50 Route de la Pyramide, 12th arrondissement (the official address lists the Arboretum in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, though it is actually located just outside the city). If you’re looking for an all-day outdoor adventure, explore the Bois de Vincennes, which connects to the Arboretum and leads back to Paris and the famous Château de Vincennes. For more information, including hours, check out the Arborteum’s dedicated page from the Ville de Paris. 

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