Teepees, Peacocks, and White Vans
or A Visit to Le Bois de Boulogne
No school and no rain today so I set out for the Bois de Boulogne.
I wanted to visit the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (it had moved to Marseille) and see an exhibition on the creation of the “savage” (it had closed on the 6th, not the 9th). Whoops.
Instead, I visited the Jardin d’Acclimatation*, a wonderland for the under-eight set opened by Napoleon III in 1860. I felt a little creepy unaccompanied by a wee one but no one else seemed to mind. There’s a carnival section with a 70s vibe and more than a nod to the U.S. in general and the western states in particular. Empty and cold this section seemed like a perfect setting for a B horror flick.
After the rides and games comes the aviary with a surprising mix of the semi-exotic (peacocks and pheasants) and the common (chickens, ducks, and pigeons). There was a lot of cooing, clucking, and squawking but the birds seemed completely uninterested in me and the few other visitors.
The zoo part is limited to two brother and sister brown bears, Victorine and Gaspard, a few donkeys, some lamas, and a deer (I only saw one though there could have been more).
There’s also a little demonstration garden, which had some last-year’s cabbages and a few shoots of something I couldn’t identify. I’m sure it’s glorious in the spring.
My favorite part was the Farm. You can smell it from the garden. While I don’t like seeing wild animals caged I figure farm animals are just as happy in pretend farms as real ones.
I wanted to see a bit of the wild part of the park so I excited the Jardin d’Acclimatation at the Muette à Neuilly gate and headed in the general direction of Le Lac Inférieur. I followed a sign that said “Lacs” and ended up on Route des Lacs à Madrid. This is the home of l’Etrier de Paris, an equestrian center, and, based on the abundance of used condoms (and the over dressed couple I saw entering the woods), a popular place for illicit assignations.***
I’ll have to go back in the spring as today the park seemed pretty dreary. Lots of mud and bare trees, neither exuberantly wild nor pleasantly tamed but something sadly broken.
*Free for those in wheelchairs. The paths are wide and paved and most of the restrooms are accessible though the toilets are seat free.
**From my very limited experience the park itself does not seem to be particularly wheelchair friendly. Some of the north-south paths are paved but most of the east-west paths are not and many of the paved paths end unexpectedly. The majority of the paths are packed gravel/dirt (or mud depending on weather conditions). Various paths are marked by way of colored marks on the trees along the route. I noted a blue path, a yellow path and a yellow and red path. I’d love to know who’s responsible for these path markers and if there’s a publicly accessible legend somewhere.
***I was surprised to see so many people “car camping” on the streets in the park but a little internet trolling showed the white vans I saw to be slightly more comfortable places for those illicit assignations.