The Jardin d’Acclimatation is the oldest and most beloved amusement park in Paris. It was opened by Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie in 1860. Located in the Bois de Boulogne woods, the former royal hunting grounds to the west of the city, the park measures almost 40 acres and is filled with a variety of family-themed attractions as well as natural splendor.

It was conceived as the “park of the future”, and Napoleon hired the most cutting-edge talent of the era to build it. It was first designed as an English garden. It eventually evolved throughout the years into the popular Parisian spot and family destination we know today. Read on to learn more about this landmark and attraction. 

The Jardin d’Acclimatation in Paris - one of the highlights of 10 Best Family Things to Do in Paris (Read all about Paris here)

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History of Jardin d’Acclimatation

Napolean hired the likes of the hugely influential landscape architect Jean-Pierre Barillet-Deschamps to build the park. Deschamps, who created some of the greatest gardens and parks of the day, such as the Buttes Chaumont and Luxembourg gardens, joined forces with legendary urban planner Baron Haussmann. Haussmann, who completely renovated Paris’ architecture and street system, brought the city into the modern age and left an indelible influence on the French capital with his massive public works and vision.

Designed first as an English garden, the Jardin d’Acclimatation evolved within the era in which it was created. With numerous geographic discoveries and scientific advances happening at the time, the garden and zoo were soon filled with rare vegetation and exotic animals from far-flung French colonies. Famous zoologist Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire was brought on to recreate natural habitats, and soon enough, the park became Paris’ most popular attraction for citizens of every stripe.

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What are the highlights of Jardin d’Acclimatation?

In the early 20th century, in an effort to bring more family visitors, and inspired by other city-parks such as Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, the park became less exotic and more grand public, with the addition of amusement park rides, a farm animal petting space and classic carnival games. 

The recent purchase of the park by global fashion mega company LVMH has resulted in a full-on renovation and a vastly improved infrastructure. It's aimed at becoming one of Paris’ most popular attractions.

The Jardin d’Acclimatation is composed of dozens of activities, from a free playground area with garden mazes and deforming circus mirrors to attractions geared toward different age groups. Small children will love low-speed go-kart rides and riverboat cruises, while older children and adults will no doubt gravitate toward the flying chairs and small-scale rollercoasters.

Perennial favorites also include tried and true attractions that have been park staples for decades. The Guignol puppet show has been going strong since the 1950s and has delighted generations of Parisian children. The various carnival games, with copious balloon popping, duck fishing and stuffed animal winning, never gets old, and a good old miniature pony ride puts a smile on everyone’s face.

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Good to know about Jardin d’Acclimatation

Don’t forget to check out the nearby Fondation Louis Vuitton, located on the edge of the park, in an impressive Frank Gehry designed building that may make you think of a UFO landing. The unique glass, steel and wooden structure was built on top of a former bowling alley, and its groundbreaking avant-garde design leaves nothing to the imagination.

One of the city’s most forward thinking private museums, the foundation houses a part of the private modern art collection of LVMH's head honcho, Bernard Arnaud, together with rotating, temporary exhibits from the world’s most prestigious artists.

Although the museum will undoubtedly please the most discriminating art enthusiasts, it is also geared toward children, with numerous visits, workshops and activities inspired by each exhibition.

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The Jardin d’Acclimatation in Paris

Location: Bois de Boulogne, Route de la Porte Dauphine à la Porte des Sablons, 75116, Paris, France

Phone: +33 (0) 1 40 67 90 85

Adrian Moore | Contributing Writer