A botanical garden

At the heart of the Bois de Vincennes, the Parc Floral de Paris was designed in 1969 by the landscape architect Daniel Colin on the site of former military facilities. The removal of the Pyramide and Cartoucherie buildings made way for a space which could host the 3rd Floralies Internationales de Paris, a major flower show. In addition to hosting shows, concerts, exhibitions and children's games, this 30-hectare (74 acres) garden is home to rich botanical collections, both in pavilions and outdoors. Its botanical diversity is of great interest on a national and international level. The Parc Floral displays a constantly changing landscape in which horticulture and wildlife exist in harmony. Since 1998, the Serres d'Auteuil garden, the Bagatelle Park, the Du Breuil School of Horticulture and Arboretum and the Parc Floral have collectively been granted the official label "Botanical Gardens of France and French-speaking countries" by botanical authorities. These four sites - each with a distinct history, architectural and horticultural heritage - represent over 83 hectares (205 acres) and some 25,000 plants gathered into collections and reconstructed environments.The Parc Floral and the Arboretum of Paris to the east of the capital, with the Garden and Greenhouses of Auteuil and the Park of Bagatelle in the west are the 4 sites of the Botanical Garden of Paris with the label " Botanical garden of France and the French-speaking countries ". With a total surface area of 73 ha, (180 acres) these four sites possess more than 15,000 botanical and horticultural species and varieties grouped into collections.

The cedar grove

Walk around the right side of the Maison du Parc et du Bois (the Park and Woods Centre); this information centre is the place to find publications, documents and brochures as well as temporary exhibitions. Behind it, stands an impressive Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica), native to the Atlas Mountains in North Africa. This conifer which can reach 40m (130 feet) high is easily recognizable by its bluish-green clusters of short needles.
On the lawn, the discreet but sculptural form of a Tanyosho pine (Pinus densiflora ‘Umbraculifera’), has a crooked red-brown trunk. The original species, the Japanese red pine, one of the most common pines in Japan, has given rise to over 90 varieties. They are widely used for bonsais. This one is under 5 metres (10 feet) tall. Even smaller, its neighbour the mountain pine (Pinus mugo) is barely 3 metres (16 feet) tall, with attractive twisted and trailing branches.

The undergrowth

From late March, primroses, crocuses and vivid purple-blue anemones appear among the undergrowth.

This forest area is divided into two zones, one of cedars and the other of oaks. It  reduces the effect of the urban heat island phenomenon and cools the atmosphere.
The forested areas of the Parc Floral, like the two wooded parks of Paris (the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes) are carbon stores. They help reduce the greenhouse effect by trapping CO2 which is responsible for climate change. The air quality is better in the woods because of their distance from sources of pollution, they also improve the air quality by capturing some of the fine particles.

At the edge of the forest

Take the Allée des Pins on your left, which leads to a pond where kingfishers (Alcedo atthis) are often spotted. These expert divers with their brilliant feathers - bright blue backs and a red chest- fish for their prey here, feasting on aquatic insects and small fish.
This is also the mating spot in March and April for the common frog (Rana temporaria) which burrows into the dark, damp undergrowth for the rest of the year. These frogs differ from the agile frog (Rana dalmatina) because of their much shorter hind legs.
On your right, the narrow paved path is bordered by a collection of ferns, which in the spring is dotted with white narcissi and the violet-pink of hellebores.
A magnificent common beech (Fagus sylvatica) spreads its roots over the path. The most common trees found in European forests after the oaks, these beech trees grow well in the shade of oaks which filter the light with their sparse foliage and offer enough moisture to the saplings. In Paris, the dry climate is less suited to the beech tree, however beeches makes up almost 9% of the woodland trees where they are often planted. This tree species lives around 150 years on average and occasionally up to 300 years. Its fruit, the beechnut, is enjoyed by both wild and domestic animals. Grilled beechnuts can also be used as a substitute for coffee.

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