Wide open skies, sweeping expanses of grass framed by belts of trees, leading the eye to the horizon.  This 26ha park, spanning the boundary between Bagnolet and Montreuil seems a place apart from the city that surrounds it.

 

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Parc Jean Moulin-les Guilands was created in 2000 when the Seine-St Denis regional authority took over responsibility for two open spaces in adjoining Bagnolet and Montreuil.  A grass bridge now links the two parks over the road that separated them and the newly built Maison du Parc offers a focal point for environmental education and community events.

Beyond the end of the Paris metro, Bagnolet and Montreuil were small towns surrounded by remnants of countryside into the mid twentieth century, despite the industrial activity of the gypsum quarries that mined the hill now occupied by the park. Motorway building in the 1960s, completion of the périphérique ring road in 1970 and the extension of the metro to Gallieni in 1971 changed the character of the area irreversibly.  The regeneration of the park was planned to preserve and enhance wild space that had nearly been swallowed by urban development. It’s a new landscape but maturing well.

On a cloudy Saturday, with thunderstorms forecast, the park wasn’t quite as deserted as these photos suggest.  Dog walkers, joggers and a game of five a side football are just out of the picture.