In a city with the Pompidou Center, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Cathedral of Notre Dame, some wonderful attractions can be easily overlooked. But there are plenty of great family destinations in the city which are easy to get to and full of appeal.
One of our favorites is the Bois de Vincennes - both a beautiful urban park and the home to one of Europe's finest zoos. It's the kind of place where you can relax after sightseeing in the city center, ride bikes, picnic, and spend days recharging your batteries. And it's always worth visiting during Parisian vacations.
The park itself dates back to the Second Empire era, when it was laid out by Napoleon III as a place for Paris' workers to unwind, and a monument to the city's prosperity. A few years later, it even hosted the 1900 Olympics, although few traces of the event remain.
Built next to the Palace of Vincennes, the park measures up to its royal neighbor, with gorgeous landscaped gardens, four lakes and intriguing sights like the Temple d'Amour (Temple of Love) and the Swiss Chalet. There's a tranquil Japanese garden with sculptures by masters like Calder and Giacometti, Paris' largest arboretum, a huge experimental tropical garden, and the Ferme Georges-Ville - which has been home to pigs, goats and sheep for a century.
But the crowning glory of the park is its the Paris Zoological Park, which has become one of the city's premier family attractions since its renovation in 2011.
When you visit the zoo at Vincennes, you'll have the chance to meet a host of charismatic inhabitants. Everything is laid out according to separate "biozones", which makes navigating the pens and buildings much easier.
In the Amazon-Guyana zone, you'll meet rainforest creatures like jaguars and tapirs, as well as a spectacular recreation of a rainforest waterfall. Madagascar is similar in some ways, conjuring up a tropical setting, but the locals are very different, with flying foxes and lemurs, as well as dazzling multicolored birds.
The Europe zone showcases birds of prey and conifer forests, while in the 4.5 ha Sahel-Sudan biozone, you'll encounter rhinos, West African lions and zebras. Finally, the Patagonia zone is filled with South American animals, including pumas and ostriches. It's a stunning menagerie.
If you love the idea of visiting the Bois de Vincennes Zoo, getting there from the Hotel Britannique is simple. The easiest route is probably to take Metro Line 1, which stops at Chateau de Vincennes or Line 8 to Porte Dorée. From there, follow signs or head straight for the Big Rock, which is the center of the zoological park.
The zoo is open every day throughout the year, and there are guided tours and workshops to explore as well. Just let the concierge team know and we'll make the necessary bookings.