Jardin d'Acclimation: An Old-Fashioned Amusement Park in Paris

Fun and Rides for the Kids; Relaxation for the Adults

••• An old postcard showing pony-drawn carriages at the Jardin D'acclimation in the late 19th Century. Unknown/Public domain

A truly enchanting "garden" for young ones, the Jardin d'Acclimation was Paris' very first amusement park, opened by Napoleon III in 1860 at the sprawling Bois de Boulogne. The nearly 50-acre park was originally intended to replicate an English-style garden, but with a more scientific lean. In its modern-day incarnation, the park is both a big draw card for children and a comfortable trip down memory lane for parents, offering a gaggle of attractions, antique games, animal farm, and a children's museum, but also plenty of lush greenery and unique lounging areas to balance your energy.

If you're not into taking the kids to Disneyland, or want a less expensive and more culturally engaging option for a day of rides and fun in the city of light, this may just be the ticket.

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Location and Contact Information:

The amusement park is located at the large Bois de Boulogne park in the posh 16th arrondissement. Signs clearly label the short walk from the metro station at Les Sablons to the park's entrance.

Bois de Boulonge
Metro: Les Sablons (Line 1)
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 67 90 82
Visit the official website 

Opening Hours and Tickets:

The park is open during April-September daily from 10am to 7pm and October-March daily from 10am to 6pm. Check the official website for opening hours for each of the restaurants, boutiques, and attractions.
Tickets: Admission is nominal (check website for current prices). Free for children under three.

Sights and Attractions Nearby the Jardin d'Acclimation:

Entering the Park:

Located a short walk from the Les Sablons metro station, visitors can enter the park via a narrow-gauge train that arrives at the garden's entrance through a stretch of woody park.

Running at ten-minute intervals, it was easy to secure a seat on a Friday afternoon in late June (a wonderful surprise for parents who only have thoughts and fears of Disney-like lines ingrained in their minds).

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The rickety train starts off slowly, before picking up a nice speed as trees and children playing on the grass fly by. The train enters into the amusement park and docks at a rail station, which features historical displays of animals that were used to carry visitors into the park before the train's creation, including an ostrich. In addition to smaller crowds, the park is also extremely affordable, with entry currently costing a mere €2,90 for adults and smaller tariffs for children, depending on their age (please note that prices may change without notice). Each attraction costs one ticket each, with book options also available. After entering the park and securing a total of six tickets, my fiancé and I (minus children), grabbed a quick lunch at La Terrace du Jardin, which offered a variety of hot and cold plates all less than €10 each. The park offers many similar dining facilities scattered throughout the space, and also boats a crêperie (open only on Wednesdays and weekends), as well as a more upscale restaurant, La Grande Verriére.

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Hitting the Attractions:

Our first stop was La Rivière Enchantée, a narrow boat ride first opened in 1927 and run entirely by a working windmill that was already installed on the premises before the park's opening. As the boat leisurely glided past beautiful flowers and ceramic zoo animals, I felt myself brought back in time and wished for a frilly parasol to twirl along the route. The exit of the ride leads you to a path dotted with distortion mirrors, which should delight both children and parents. En route to our next attraction, we watched children laugh as they rode individual horses on a vintage junior steeple chaise.

Next, we beelined for the the main roller coaster. The child in me rushed straight to the entry for the front seat, and when it was time to depart, we were the only people on the entire ride--a first at any amusement park!

As statues of short, grumpy old men watched on, the coaster zipped around at an enjoyably fast pace and took its biggest dip through a hidden tunnel. I shrieked with enjoyment the entire time.

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The roller coaster let us off in front of a row of antique amusement park games. From a shooting saloon to antique lion mouths opening and closing in anticipation of a bean bag thrown at them, to the old-fashioned tin can pyramid that is just waiting to be knocked down by throwing balls at it, my excitement level peaked, especially after my fiancé knocked over that tin pyramid and we won a water gun. After spinning on the nearby tea cups, that literally embodied a French white ceramic flowered tea set in design, it was time for the adults to take a short repose.

Children Play, Adults Lay:

Besides offering an impressive number of attractions for children, the garden is also filled with free playgrounds of all sizes and shapes, with the largest being the Jardin Plage. As the adults bask in the sun in comfortable lounge chairs, children are free to climb on a playground shaped like a boat before running through a large water space featuring various fountains and sprinklers. After a relaxing break, we took a stroll along the farm, which features a variety of rural animals, an intoxicating botanical garden, and a large-scale bird house, featuring more than 200 flying beauties.

The park also features miniature golf, an archery range, and an outdoor fitness center for kids. After having our fill of attractions, we ended our day with tea and a millefeuille pastry at the sumptuous La Salon de Thé Angelina. Overall, it was a day worth remembering, even without kids.