The Buttes-Chaumont park, so charming today, is nevertheless built on a once desolate land that was not yet part of Paris.
The Montfaucon gallows were not far away and were ominously famous. And for a good reason: it was an arcaded stone edifice built in the Middle Ages where the condemned ones were hanged, and indeed remained hanged there until complete disintegration of the bodies. So was royal justice rendered, as a merciless warning to the population.
The gibbet was dismantled during the French Revolution and the place gradually became a huge open-air dump. The basement of the Chaumont mount itself was used for a gypsum and millstone quarries used in the construction of Parisian buildings.
We could have stopped there, but it would have been without taking into account the imperial will. And the English inspiration.
When Napoleon III returned from his English exile, he imported the urban model dotted with green spaces that he loved so much in London.
Thus were born in the imperial spirit the Parisian Monceau park, Montsouris park and Buttes-Chaumont park.
The gypsum quarries of Butte-Chaumont were annexed to Paris in 1860 and Georges-Eugène Haussmann – chosen by Napoleon III to carry out the massive urban renewal program of Paris – asked Adolphe Alphand to design and build the park that would become the Buttes-Chaumont. The architect Gabriel Davioud was in charge of the creation of the buildings and the architectural elements of the park.
The works lasted five years and the Buttes-Chaumont park was inaugurated on April 1, 1867.
With its 25 hectares, the Buttes-Chaumont park is one of the largest green spaces in Paris. It is also the richest in forest species. And the one with the greatest difference in height since it is built on pre-existing quarries.
(Dis)organized like an English garden, the Buttes-Chaumont park evokes a dreamlike mountain landscape, with its cliffs, waterfalls, caves, rocks and mountain pastures. The Belvedere Island is topped by the Temple de la Sybille – built by Gabriel Davioud – which offers a beautiful view of Paris, and in particular Montmartre. The suspended footbridge which connects Belvédère Island to the park was designed by Gustave Eiffel.
The whole is absolutely delicious and nothing remains of the sinister past of the place.
The Mouzaïa area is charming too. This kind of place where you love to get lost.