parc de boulogne, edmond de rothschild park
 

Edmond de Rothschild

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Parc de Boulogne

paris jardinparis photos, parkOkay, so technically Boulogne is not Paris, but it’s as close as a suburb can be, lying next-door to the 16th arrondissement. The same train/bus pass that will take you sight-seeing around the centre of Paris will also take you out to Boulogne-Billancourt. With the plethora of parks and attractions Paris has to offer, it may seem strange to delve beyond the comfort of the better known tourist tracks, but Parc de Boulogne, Edmond de Rothschild, has much charm if not only for my friends the coypus.

I am sure there are several ways to arrive here. I myself, hopped onto the number 52 bus, and with the aid of street map and my Parisian guide, found it without too many difficulties. It is close to the hospital (Hôpital Ambroise Pare I believe), so if you look for signs for the hôpital you should not go far wrong. The park’s official address is: 3, rue des Victoires, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt.

 

boulogne parkBoulogne is quite different from the working class, cotton mill town on the edge of the Saddleworth hills, that I had been accustomed to living these past few years. Affluence is abundant, and the residents all appear well groomed, well dressed and rich. It’s conducive to a sense of security, but to the unkempt, unfashionable visitor like my good self, there’s an underlying feeling of being like a fish out of water.
Having arrived in Paris with little to no means for making an income (no mean feat for somebody who avoids risks at all costs), and awaiting an application with the Chambre de Commerce, I allowed myself a lazy May afternoon break from all the preparatory work that even Sisyphus would have grumbled over. With picnic blanket, camera, bottled water, and the sun on my face I walked through the entrance and into the green.

terrapins in boulogne parkwildlife in parisThe first thing to notice is a modern sculpture built from derelict wood; it makes a change from the typical sculptures found in most Paris parks, but modern art is frequently lost on me. As you come out into lush green pastures it’s hard not to miss the dilapidated building that lurks behind. Its derelict nature complete with graffiti is not entirely distasteful, especially when everything else about the area is so pompous and clean. If you enjoyed the sculpture at the entrance, you may find it holds greater appeal to you.
Across the pasture to the pond lies a small subdued waterfall, and if you arrive in Spring you may catch mummy goose with her goslings. Over to the right lies a red Japanese styled bridge and another pond, and I swore my eyes were playing tricks when in the distance, sat on protruding dead tree limbs, I thought I saw terrapins. As I approached closer my girlfriend pointed out a rodent swimming to shore, which I assumed to be a vole or water rat, and felt quite sure it would disappear down a burrow. To my amazement, not only did it remain close to the edge of the pond, but two more appeared and came within touching distance. coypu, edmond de rothschild parcA French lady with child told us the locals sometimes feed them, and whilst they will eat anything, they have a fondness for carrot. It was only later when we translated the correct name from French (ragondin) into English, that I discovered these were juvenile coypus. Even then the name didn’t mean much to me, as these cute critters (considered pests) are native to south America, and whilst they once lived in England (having escaped their fate in the fur trade), they were eradicated in the 1980’s. I was even more amazed to discover the adults can grow up to 60cm, but there were none to be seen on this particular day. Maybe these were escapees or put there by the park authorities, but they certainly added an amusement factor as they chased the tails of ducks, and playfully pushed down on floating terrapins.

 

terrapins


The Coypu
coypu, rodent chasing duck
coypu in france
coypuThe Coypu is a herbivore and semi-aquatic rodent, considered a pest due to its destructive feeding and burrowing. They're considered passive and social animals that are both nocturnal and shy (unless they're juveniles put into a Paris park and fed by the locals).

The coypu can breath underwater for ten minutes, and live also on land, despite having an awkward walk.

In parts of America, their numbers became so out of control, a price was put on each head, and within a fortnight 9,000 were killed, with a target of 391,000 more to be eradicated before the end of the year.

Their natural predators include large snakes, wild cats, wolves, crocodiles and otters. In Paris, natural predators include humans and harsh winters (apparently frost bite can affect the tails, leading to infection and death).
coypu bisou
Photo: Coypu Bisou
boulogne paris park

japanese gardens, boulognejapanese gardenBeyond the second pond lie more green fields, where the occasional lover lies amongst buttercups and whispering leaves. The gentle trot of horses’ hooves can be heard in the neighbouring horse training grounds as the serpentine path leads off into wooded grounds. To the back of the park are the well tended grounds of a Japanese themed garden, which I found devoid of human presence asides the gardeners working upon it. It offers welcomed shade on a sunny day.

The Edmond de Rothschild park covers 15 hectares and does not take too long to walk around, but it is a very japanese bridgepleasant escape. Upon completing our circular route, we laid out the blanket, half in and half out of the sun, so that I could read without the reflective glare from my pages, and my girlfriend could soak up the heat like a terrapin upon a branch. Every ten minutes we would have to reposition ourselves to chase the moving shadow of the tree, until I put down my book and vegetated under the sun’s rays too.

 


edmond de rothschild park
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