The Parc de Bercy was created in the mid 1990’s, but its roots go back to the Middle Ages, when Paris had one of the largest vineyards in Europe. In the 17th century, under Louis XIV, the first wine warehouse was opened at Bercy, then a village outside of Paris. By the 19th century, the Bercy wineries had become the largest wine-trading center in the world. Ships would travel along the Seine from Burgundy, and dock at Bercy, where trains would bring the wine to the depot to be bottled. The warehouses functioned until the 1950’s, when they were dismantled. Today, the ancient paved alleys with the rails used by the trains to transport the wine delineate the grids in the center of the park. And, century old trees provide shade in this “new” park.
The best way to visit the Parc de Bercy is to go from west to east, starting at the Bercy metro station. The park is divided into three parts:
“La Grande Prairie,” a large meadow, that extends from the Palais Omnisport (it too has lawns on its walls). This is a large play area. On one side is the Musée du Cinéma, originally designed by the architect Frank Gehry for the American Cultural Center. On the opposite side is a waterfall and stairways.
“Les Parterres,” nine formal gardens set in a grid of three by three. The nine squares represent different elements, including a vineyard with a large red brick chimney in the middle; a vegetable garden, a rose garden, a maze, an orangerie, a House of Wind, fruit trees, trellises covered with flowering wines, a flower garden….As you walk east through the “parterres” you’ll come to an artificial pond, surrounded by square-columned arcades draped with wisteria. The pond goes underground, and in order to continue, one has to take the arched footbridge (there is one on each side) that cross over the rue Joseph Kessel, to the third part of the park.
Romantic Garden, composed of winding paths shaded by large trees, dotted by pergolas, flowers and thickets. Nearby are water elements, including fishponds and artificial hilly areas. In a circular pond, sits “La Maison du Lac.” On one side, the bamboos, reeds and other vegetation have a Chinese feel. And facing the “Maison du Lac,” surrounded by water- lilies, is a curious work, “Demeure X,”
by the sculptor Etienne Martin (1968). The Romantic Garden is at the eastern limit of the park. As you exit, you’ll find yourself in the busy Bercy Village and at the Cour de Saint Emilian metro station.
Parc de Bercy
Metro: Bercy (Lines 6 & 14), Cour St-Emilion (Line 14)