The Promenade Plantée, also known as the Coulée Verte René-Dumont, is an elevated green pathway in the Bastille district of Paris’s 12th arrondissement. It was once part of the former Vincennes railway line, which was decommissioned in the 1960s, and successfully converted into a beautiful urban oasis in 1993. Today it’s a popular place to escape the noisy city year-round.
Stretching approximately 4.7 kilometers (2.9 miles) from the Opéra Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes, it was the first green space of its kind in the world — a model for the “rails-to-trails” movement which inspired similar projects worldwide, such as the more recent High Line in New York City. The 71 archways below it have been converted into artisan workshops and art galleries, the Viaduc des Arts (worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood).
The name “Promenade Plantée” translates to “planted walk” or “walk with trees,” which aptly describes the green and leafy nature of this city oasis. In 2013, the walkway was renamed the “Coulée verte René-Dumont” in honor of René Dumont, a French agronomist, sociologist, and environmental politician.
The park is elevated for much of its length, providing lovely views over the rooftops of the city (and rare peeks into the windows of Parisians who never bother with curtains). It features a variety of landscapes, including formal French gardens, wilder sections with native trees and shrubs, bamboo-lined walkways, trellised climbing roses, and numerous benches and spots to rest your feet.
It’s also not bad in the winter (less crowded, too):
Once you get to the Jardin de Reuilly (a favorite locals’ spot for picnics and sunbathing in summer) the path goes to ground level (joined by a bike path). It then continues through more modern architecture and a few tunnels before joining the Bois de Vincennes.
Like all good things, the Promenade Plantée is such a popular destination for both Parisians and tourists that it’s sometimes a victim of its own success. Summer afternoons can be so crowded you’ll be hard-pressed to find a quiet place to pose for your Instagram selfies (ha!). In the mornings you’ll have to dodge all of the runners sweating it out on their way to and from the Bois de Vincennes.
You can access the Promenade Plantée in several locations along the Avenue Daumesnil (usually where another street intersects below the Viaduc des Arts). There are elevators, but I haven’t once seen them actually working, so if you’re in a wheelchair (or generally balk at going up almost two flights of stairs), enter at the furthest southern point of the Promenade Plantée, where the Coulée Verte René-Dumont meets Rue Jaques Hillairet on the Google map. Here you can just follow the ramp towards Bastille (with the bridge going over the Jardin de Reuilly behind you).
Opening Hours of the Promenade Plantée
The Promenade gates are closed at night (like most of the city parks), when a park guard with a whistle chases everyone out. Summer hours are 7am-9:30pm, and winter hours are 8am-5:45pm, with fall and spring falling somewhere in between (sunlight hours on any given week are a good indication). You can check the current hours when you enter the gates or see them posted on the municipal website.