“What if they tried to demolish Central Park in New York, Hyde Park in London or Tiergarten in Berlin, to build a mall?” This was the tagline of a protester’s poster in Gezi Park, Istanbul, as recently shared via Twitter. Turkey’s youth may be protesting about much more that just the demolishing of one of their capital’s largest green spaces, but this question still got me to thinking… Could we imagine a day when our cities no longer have parks?
Paris is not Paris without les Tuileries, or Jardin du Luxembourg, or even my most recent discovery, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. I often complain that there is not enough green space in the French capital, especially compared to London’s plethora of squares, gardens, and green nooks in every open space possible. But I recently realized that there is no reason to complain… If you want green, wild, lush park life in Paris, you can seek it out, and you will find it.
Paris even has its own vineyards, right in the middle of the city. Granted, it’s a small lot of land, but when you combine the steep, cobbled hills of Montmartre with the rows of vines, one might think they had been warped across the Atlantic to land in Northern California.
If you need to get lost in the middle of a forest, wind through rough dirt paths to come out onto a lake, Paris happens to be encircled by two woods. One of them, Bois de Vincennes, is only a 20 minute metro ride away.
Or maybe you need to see some movement in the landscape, where rocks emerge from bodies of water, bridges suspend as if in a tropical jungle, and pagodas reveal an unknown view of Paris. A place where kids can bring along their fishing rods and wait with hopeful intensity as they reel in empty hook after empty hook. In this case Parc des Buttes-Chaumont awaits in the north-eastern corner of the city.
Paris is beautiful architectually, yes, but it would lose a great deal of this beauty if we were to wipe out the natural spots that are essential when all you need is… A. Breath. Of. Fresh. Air.
Can you imagine your city without its parks? I don’t think the people of Istanbul can either (#occupyTurkey).