Parc de la Tête d'Or

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: AM

As we walked along the boulevard leading up to this grand park, the streets dappled with light, we grabbed baguettes from our favourite bakery, some local cheeses and a piece of quince cheese for sweetness and headed over to this oasis of calm in Lyon's sixth arrondissement - Parc de la Tête d'Or.

One hundred and five hectares of one of the most beautiful urban parks in France, with a lake of sixteen hectares within the park. It is often described as a cultural and living space, a perfect place for reflection and somewhere in which to watch nature flourish, whilst also being a place of knowledge, understanding, conservation and learning about all the wonderful plant life and animals that thrive within this habitat. It is also a place of calm and relaxation, intended for those who wish to take a gentle stroll and bathe themselves in the calming effects of nature.

After our delightful picnic we started by exploring the greenhouses, filled with the most amazing plant life in different temperate zones, not surprisingly in every nook and cranny artists were drawing and painting the flora and fauna, encouraged no doubt by the fact that this park is admission free which therefore enables everyone to access its beauty irrespective of means.

We wandered along the rockery paths of the alpine gardens and then through the magnolia boulevard in the botanical gardens, investigating the insect hotels en route. France is a large consumer of pesticides and so in order to help reduce consumption the park has - since 2002 - been a pioneer in the ecological management of their green space and therefore they do not use chemicals or products that are harmful to the environment - instead they use insects, mulching and hand weeding in order to keep their beds weed free and their plants free from aphids.

Whilst P stayed in the jardin botanique to further explore the 6500 square meters of greenhouses, the girls and I took in the zoo and were enthralled by the lions, red pandas, gibbons, fat sand rats and the like - the monkeys even seemed to put on a show with all their monkey business and the girls delighted in doing voiceovers of what the monkeys may or may not have been saying.

Within the bubbling chaos that a major city brings, the hustle and bustle of daily life, a park like this is vital for its citizens and visitors alike as it offers the chance to reconnect with nature and become more grounded. As much as we love the city life and everything it offers, we also enjoy returning to nature and this park delivers all that and much much more - a welcome respite.

October 2017