Out­door Fun

Gar­dens, fire­works and roller­coast­ers are only some of the things to be en­joyed this month in Paris

Where Paris - - Paris Contents - By Pa­tri­cia Val­i­centi

paris and its sur­round­ing re­gion are stud­ded with a host of parks and gar­dens rang­ing from French for­mal gar­dens to a haven for bio­di­ver­sity. Great at­trac­tion parks for young and old can also be found in and around Paris for a day, or more, of sum­mer­time fun. The Parc de Ba­gatelle of­fers a beau­ti­ful and bu­colic prom­e­nade into a world of themed flo­ral gar­dens, ponds, bridges, grot­toes, wa­ter­falls, an Or­angery and en­coun­ters with pea­cocks. The park houses one of the finest rose gar­dens in France with over 1200 va­ri­eties and where an in­ter­na­tional rose com­pe­ti­tion has been held since 1907. While the park is known for its roses, it also houses a gar­den ded­i­cated to irises, a pond filled with water lilies and lo­tus, a mar­ket gar­den and a col­lec­tion of clema­tis. Just 30 min­utes east of Paris sits the el­e­gant cas­tle and gar­dens of Champs-sur-Marne. An ode to the lovely life­style of the 18th cen­tury, its il­lus­tri­ous in­hab­i­tants have in­cluded the Mar­quise de Pom­padour and the Princess of Conti. The 85-hectare park is one of the first mixed style gar­dens with its 900 me­tre per­spec­tive punc­tu­ated by two or­na­men­tal ponds form­ing the for­mal French part of the gar­dens while wide English-style land­scaped ar­eas form the back­drop re­plete with wood­lands. A mas­ter­piece of 17th cen­tury France emerges just 50 kilo­me­tres from Paris at the cas­tle of Vaux-le-Vi­comte. This en­chant­ing cas­tle has sweep­ing gar­dens, per­spec­tives and foun­tains de­signed by the great gar­dener and land­scape artist An­dré Le Nôtre. Ev­ery Satur­day night un­til Oc­to­ber 3rd, the cas­tle, which is pri­vately owned, holds its fa­mous can­dlelit soirées when 2000 can­dles il­lu­mi­nate the cas­tle and grounds. There is also a fire­works dis­play ev­ery Satur­day at 11pm, and this year a draw­ing will give a lucky vis­i­tor a chance to set off the fire­works ev­ery week. One of the lat­est ad­di­tions to the park and gar­den of­fer­ings in the greater Paris re­gion is the Parc du Pe­u­ple de l’Herbe (The Park of the Grass Peo­ple), which is de­voted to the preser­va­tion of bio­di­ver­sity and which opened in June just 40 min­utes west of Paris. Sit­u­ated on the banks of the Seine, the park is out­fit­ted with a mon­u­men­tal ob­ser­va­tory from which the flora and fauna of the park can be ob­served. The park has been de­signed to raise pub­lic aware­ness of na­ture and the en­vi­ron­ment and their preser­va­tion. In Marne-la-Val­lée the won­der­ful world of Dis­ney­land Paris is cel­e­brat­ing its 25th birth­day in style this year. To be­gin the cel­e­bra­tions, there is a brand new pa­rade with spec­tac­u­lar floats dur­ing which Mickey and his friends become ex­plor­ers of the fu­ture in an imag­i­na­tive 8-chap­ter story. There are also two new Star Wars at­trac­tions on the agenda, a new take on Star Tours: the Ad­ven­ture Con­tin­ues and Star Wars Hyper­space Moun­tain. The for­mer will take vis­i­tors to new des­ti­na­tions with a new pilot and new 3D tech­nol­ogy, while the space at­trac­tion Space Moun­tain has become

Hyper­space Moun­tain, tak­ing vis­i­tors on a sen­sa­tional ex­pe­di­tion in­spired by the world of Star Wars. Also on the birth­day agenda is the Waltz of the Princesses in which each princess wears a new dress de­signed for the an­niver­sary. And at night­fall don’t miss the Dis­ney Il­lu­mi­na­tions, a new show of fire­works, sound and light. Mean­while, a unique ex­pe­ri­ence is wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered just 30 kilo­me­tres north of the French cap­i­tal at Parc Astérix. Here the world of the Gauls, who were among the orig­i­nal in­hab­i­tants of France, is be­ing played out. The park of­fers a fab­u­lous blend of 40 at­trac­tions and shows staged in six dif­fer­ent worlds, Wel­come to Gaul, The Ro­man Em­pire, An­cient Greece, The Vik­ings, Travel Through Time and Egypt. This year’s new at­trac­tion is the Pé­gase Ex­press, named for the winged horse Pe­ga­sus and the rock­ing roller­coaster takes the vis­i­tor through the world of An­tiq­uity in leaps and bounds. Ev­ery Satur­day through to Au­gust 19th, the park is open un­til 10:30pm as a su­perb dis­play of sound, light and fire­works is played out. The show, en­ti­tled Le Ciel Vous Tombe sur la Tête (The Sky is Fall­ing Down) is a spell­bind­ing spec­ta­cle fea­tur­ing druids work­ing their magic. Mean­while, the En­chanted River boat ride, the Lit­tle Train that wends through the woods, a rid­ing academy and ex­otic birds are among the panorama of at­trac­tions await­ing the vis­i­tor in the Bois de Boulogne at the Jardin d’Ac­cli­mata­tion, the old­est theme park in France, which has been fre­quented by gen­er­a­tions of Parisians. Founded in 1860, the park was in­au­gu­rated by Napoleon III and the Em­press Eu­ge­nie. And right in the heart of Paris in the Jardin des Tui­leries an at­trac­tion ad­ven­ture is ready to be taken with a tra­di­tional fun­fair that runs through to Au­gust 27th. Some 60 at­trac­tions are on-hand in­clud­ing bumper cars, ghost trains, a hall of mir­rors and a wooden car­rousel. There are tram­po­lines and gi­ant slides as well as typ­i­cal fair­ground treats.

The Pa­rade at Dis­ney­land Paris (above), the sound, light and fire­works show at Parc Astérix (op­po­site page) and the fun­fair in the Jardin des Tui­leries (bot­tom right)

From top to bot­tom: View onto Cas­tle of Vaux- le-Vi­comte, view of the Or­angery and the Rose Gar­den at the Parc de Ba­gatelle and the Grounds of Vaux- le-Vi­comte

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