The Jardin d’Acclimatation was the vision of one couple: Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugénie. Taking inspiration from Hyde Park, which was a memorable part of their stay in London, they made their dream of a Parisian leisure and amusement park op the edge of the Bois de Boulogne come true. To bring their project to fruition, the imperial couple employed a team that was making waves in Paris at the time: Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, Prefect of the Seine department, engineer Jean-Charles Alphand, landscape gardener Jean-Pierre Barillet-Deschamps and architect Gabriel Davioud. They combined their talents to create this 20-hectare park, which would go on to become a floral jewel in the capital’s crown. Originally, the Jardin d’Acclimatation was home to a zoological society. Its objective was to ‘acclimatize’ fauna and flora from around the world, as well as far-off civilizations and cultures. Today, determined to preserve this unique 19th-century heritage, the Jardin d’Acclimatation devotes its landscapes and architecture to cultural and sporting activities, attractions and walks, welcoming Parisians and residents of the Ile-de-France, as well as tourists from around the world.
No presentation of the Jardin d'Acclimatation would be complete without mentioning its most iconic attractions: the Little Train and the Enchanted River. The Little Train has transported generations of children since it first blew its whistle in 1878. The Enchanted River, which can carry the whole family, take visitors on a magical journey.
The Spanish-born Countess Eugénie de Montijo became Empress of France at the age of 27, a title she would hold for over 18 years. Idolized at first, she then fell out of favor and was the victim of criticism and envy, but went on to join forces with the Emperor to create the Jardin d’Acclimatation. Guided by the great zoologist of the time, Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, the first park manager and ardent defender of observing animals in their natural habitat, the young empress devoted herself to her scientific occupations. For example, she decided to develop the rearing of silkworms in France. To do this, she created one of the first silk farms in the heart of the Jardin d’Acclimatation, which still exists today, though now it houses a tea room. As a defender of literature and the arts, this pupil of Stendhal and Mérimée played an active role in the transformation of Paris during the industrial revolution. The love that the residents of the Ile-de-France have for the park she created is certainly one of her few posthumous sources of satisfaction.
In October 2014, the Jardin d’Acclimatation played host to the opening of the Fondation Louis Vuitton. The park walkways welcomes thousands of contemporary art enthusiasts headed for the Fondation building designed by Frank Gehry. Several acres of meadows and clearings have been re-landscaped to surround the building, which has been designed as a ‘cloud resting on water’, by the Canadian-American architect. At the end of 2015, as part of a plan by the management board to rejuvenate the Jardin d’Acclimatation, an ambitious project will be presented to the City of Paris, its administrative supervisor. It will complement the usual entertainment provided by the park, a cultural and educational addition for both families and the general public alike.
- 25,000 The number of children who attend workshops every year
- 250 The number of employees who participate in the daily running of the park
- 1,397 trees, 332 of which were planted between 2013 and 2014