Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

This park is on a hill in the north-east corner of Paris, in the 19th arrondissement. It is the third largest park in Paris, after Tuileries and Villette, and it includes such unusual features as man-made cliffs (the only cliffs in Paris, as far as I know), a man-made lake, a man-made grotto and lots of exotic plants all labeled with their name and place of origin.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

For several centuries the Buttes-Chaumont area was the site of the gallows, where condemned people were hung. Esmeralda in Victor Hugo’s novel Notre-Dame de Paris 1482 was not hung here, but this was where they disposed of her body afterwards, and where Quasimodo found her and lay down beside her to die, so their skeletons were later found intertwined.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

In any case, the site was long used as a public dump for garbage and dead horses, also for dead people who were not entitled to a proper burial. Also there were lots of gypsum quarries here, so the area was quite a mess when it was incorporated into the city of Paris in 1860.

Imitation Roman temple

The emperor Napoleon III and his city planner, Georges-Eugène Haussmann, decided the area had to be cleaned up, so it was gradually re-developed into a city park with a fantasy landscape (they used dynamite to make the cliffs) and an imitation Roman temple at the highest point.

It all looks a bit phony, but no one seems to mind. The park is very popular with joggers and people just strolling around.

People jogging in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

My photos in this post are from 2012. I revised the text in 2018.

See also: the nearby neighborhood of Belleville.

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