Coulée Verte

Paris, Ile De France

Coulée Verte: the world's first Promenade Plantée.

The Coulée Verte: A Green Path Above the City

Coulée Verte, also known as Promenade Plantée, is an elevated boardwalk set upon the historical Vincennes Railway Line in the 12 Arrondissement of Eastern Paris. The green belt of a public park links Place de la Bastille to the Château de Vincennes. It is a 4.7km corridor of both organised and wild greenery and showcases a harmonious fusion of urban design and the natural world. If you’re looking for a little respite from the hustle and bustle of Paris, without actually leaving the city, then the scenic Coulée Verte is the place for you.

The Coulée Verte: A Symbol of Urban Renewal

Serving as inspiration for America’s very own elevated Highline in New York, the Coulée Verte opened 16 years prior to its Yankee cousin in 1993. The railway line upon which the park is situated operated as a passenger train from 1859 to 1969, and as a freight line between Bastille and Varenne-Saint-Hilaire until 1985. After that, the line was largely abandoned, with a portion of it (and the Gare de Bastille) being deconstructed to allow space for the Opéra Bastille, and nature reclaiming the rest.

Initially, the fate of the abandoned railway track was in dispute; should it be demolished? But facing opposition from neighbourhood residents and the City of Paris a decision was made to transform it into a public park.

Construction commenced in 1988 by Philippe Mathieux and Jacques Vergely, who kept most of the original features, including viaducts and underground passageways. These arcade spaces beneath the tracks – the ‘Viaduc des Bastille’ – were then filled with art workshops, galleries, and local artisan shops and renamed the ‘Viaduc des Arts’. The Jardin de Reuilly followed in 1992, completed in 1998 and the Coulée Verte was finally finished.

Even though the consensus amongst Parisans was that the project was largely a waste of time and money it became a popular pathway through the heart of the city. And so, new life was born from the formerly forgotten infrastructure, representing the transformative power of urban renewal.

Coulee Verte 1
- Tegmo

Navigating the Coulée Verte

At 10 metres above the streets of Paris and partway encased in tunnels, a stroll along the Promenade Plantée shields visitors from the noisy nature of the city below. After rising up and forming the ‘Viaduc des Arts’ in the West end the parkway intersects the Jardin de Reuilly near the rue Montgallet and descends to street level. It then fans out into an open park and follows the old railway east, passing through several tunnels until one section terminates at the square Charles-Péguy and the other continues along the beltway.

In addition to the Jardin de Reuilly and the square Charles-Péguy, the Promenade Plantée also includes the Jardin de la gare de Reuilly, with its preserved but repurposed railway station, and the square Hector-Malot.

The Five Sections of the Coulée Verte

Section 1: Viaduc des Arts at Avenue Daumesnil/ Rue de Lyon.

Welcome to the beginning of the Coulée Verte. From here you can admire the architecture of the archways and the hidden gem shops, cafes, and bars contained within them. There are plenty of benches to sit out of the sun and the place is alive with plant life and colour.

Walking Distance: 1,4 Km

Section 2: Rue Sahel – Tunnel de Reuilly

After walking for a few minutes this section of the Coulée Verte descends into the trench part, and the noises from the city rise overhead. The area is bursting with plants and greenery and passes through three well-lit tunnels before levelling out to street level once more. It is easily accessible for cyclists and popular amongst skateboarders, and rollerbladers.

Walking Distance: 800m

Metro Station: Bel Air Line 6; Vélib Station #12022

Section 3: Allée Vivaldi – Jardin de Reuilly

This section is at street level and cycling along it is currently permitted. When navigating this route you’ll find the ancient Gare de Reuilly, one of the train stations of the former Vincennes Railway Line.

Walking Distance: 350m

Metro Station: Dugommier Line 6; Vélib Station #12036

Section 4: Jardin de Reuilly

This is arguably the coolest section of the Coulée Verte as it transforms into an elevated walkway 10 metres above the Jardin de Reuilly. During the summer, there will be clusters of people picnicking away beneath you as you stride overhead.

Walking Distance: 210 m

Metro Station: Montgallet Line 6; Vélib Station #12028

Section 5: Jardin de Reuilly Rue de Lyon /Av. Daumesnil

This is the last section of the Coulée Verte. The route remains above street level and at one point runs between buildings. After this, why not head to one of Paris’ many chic bars – you know you deserve it!

Walking Distance: 1,4 Km

Metro Station: Montgallet Line 6; Vélib Station #12027

Taking a Break at the Coulée Verte

Recreation and Leisure

Coulée Verte is more than just a scenic walkway. The park offers various recreational opportunities to engage visitors of all ages. There are designated areas for picnics, relaxation, and yoga sessions, which invites you to pause, unwind, and relax.

Fitness enthusiasts can make use of outdoor exercise equipment strategically placed along the pathway, and children can playgrounds designed with imagination and adventure in mind.

Coulee Verte
- Marc Henri

Artistic Elements and Architectural Splendor

Despite having some enclosed sections, as it passes between high-rise buildings, the Coulée Verte offers beautiful views over Paris in its open areas. It also allows visitors to get a different perspective of the surrounding architecture, offering their intricate details up to be admired like prized possessions. Therefore, Promenade Plantée is not only a haven for nature enthusiasts but also a showcase of artistic expression.

The arches of the viaduct now display platforms for sculptures, installations, and architectural features. And as you wander along the beltline you'll encounter captivating works of art that harmonize with the park's surroundings, further enhancing the immersive experience. These artistic touches along the Coulée Verte garner whimsy and creativity, elevating it beyond a mere park and transforming it into a living gallery.

Coulee Verte 2
- Tegmo

Scenic Gardens

One of the most enchanting aspects of Coulée Verte is its gardens. They are a mixture of wild vegetation and neatly landscaped areas where the wilderness has been tamed. Lined with an abundance of lime and hazel trees, climbing plants, rose bushes and other flora, the park provides a lush and ever-changing backdrop throughout the seasons. Delight in the blooming flowers; a multicoloured mirage of spring, or seek shade under the canopy of trees during the summer. Marvel at the golden hues of the leaves in Autumn and then as they fall into a crunchy carpet, as winter claims the city.

As part of its commitment to becoming more environmentally friendly and preserving natural spaces for the future, Paris’ city council ensures that a variety of plant species flourish, attracting butterflies, pollinating bees, birds, and other wildlife. So, enjoying recreational pursuits along the pathway is a wonderful chance to reconnect with nature.

Coulee Verte: Part of Something Bigger – and Greener!

The Coulée Verte is not referred to as Promenade Plantée by chance. A Promenade Plantée, or planted promenade, is a green space that is developed and protected as part of a city’s wider urbanisation plan. And this is exactly what the Coulée Verte signifies to France in an effort to make Paris even more eco-friendly.

Over the last few years, the city has slowly been wielding its green thumb, adding more natural details like the Coulée Verte, to its concrete façade. Creating the world’s first urban farm (which opened on the Paris Expo rooftop in 2020), transforming the cold, grey desert that was the Parisian Town Hall, and establishing a park that links the Trocadero and the Tour Eiffel are some of the initiatives being implemented. It's not quite Singapore, but it's definitely on the way!

Coulee Verte 3
- Tegmo

Our Thoughts...

Coulée Verte stands as a testament to Paris' commitment to urban renewal combining historical infrastructure with the serenity of nature. This elevated corridor allows visitors to experience a unique perspective of the city, inviting visitors to wander through lush gardens, appreciate art installations, and find respite from the streets below. Whether you're seeking a peaceful stroll, a place to lay down your picnic blanket and reconnect with nature, or an opportunity to immerse yourself in artistic expression, Coulée Verte provides an enchanting escape.

Interested in finding more places like this? Try a CityDays urban exploration game - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of Paris and beyond.

Coulée Verte Questions


What you need to know

Coulée Verte
France, Île-de-France, Paris, 12e arr.
48.838349, 2.399824
Tips before you visit

Sundays attract all the runners, so if you wish to avoid them then refrain from visiting the boardwalk on Sunday mornings.

When visiting the Jardin de Reuilly make sure to fill up your water bottle at one of the fountains. Okay, but what’s so special about that I hear you ask. Well this is one of the few places in Paris where drinking water is not only free but you can also decide whether you want to fill up with still or sparkling! Pretty cool huh?