A history of arboriculture in paris

A history of Arboriculture – Paris

A History of Arboriculture in Paris: A Journey Through Time

Paris, the City of Light, is famous for its stunning architecture, world-renowned museums, and romantic charm. But what many visitors to this iconic city may not realize is the important role that trees have played in shaping its history and culture. From the earliest days of Roman rule to the present day, arboriculture has been a vital part of Paris’s landscape, providing beauty, shade, and a connection to nature. As a consulting arborist with years of experience, I am fascinated by the rich history of arboriculture in Paris, and in this article, we will take a journey through time, exploring the importance of trees in defining the character of this beautiful city.

The Beginnings of Arboriculture in Paris

Arboriculture in Paris dates back to the Roman era when trees were used for their wood, fruits, and medicinal properties. The first public gardens in Paris were established in the Middle Ages, with the Jardin des Plantes being the oldest and most famous of them all. This beautiful botanical garden, which covers over 24 hectares, was founded in 1626 by Louis XIII as a medicinal herb garden. Over time, it evolved into a botanical garden and arboretum, with many iconic trees that have become synonymous with Paris.

During the Renaissance, the art of gardening and landscaping flourished, and many new gardens and parks were created, featuring a variety of trees and plants. One of the most famous of these parks is the Tuileries Garden, which was created by Catherine de’ Medici in the 16th century. This beautiful park, which covers over 25 hectares, features many iconic trees, including chestnuts, oaks, and plane trees.

Iconic Trees in Paris

Paris is home to many iconic trees, each with its own unique history and story. One of the most famous is the Champs-Elysées avenue, which features a double row of trees on either side. The trees, which are mostly chestnuts, were planted in the 18th century and have become a symbol of Parisian elegance and refinement. This iconic avenue, which stretches from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, is famous for its luxury shops, restaurants, and cafes, and is one of the most popular destinations for tourists visiting Paris.

Another iconic tree in Paris is the weeping willow that stands on the banks of the Seine River, near the Pont de l’Alma. This tree is said to have been planted by Napoleon himself, and has since become a symbol of romance and nostalgia. The willow’s long, drooping branches sway in the breeze, creating a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere that is the perfect antidote to the bustle of the city.

Famous Arborists and City Planners

Paris has been home to many famous arborists and city planners, who have left their mark on the city’s landscape. One of the most famous is André Le Nôtre, who was the chief gardener of King Louis XIV and designed many of the city’s most famous gardens, including the Gardens of Versailles. Le Nôtre was a master of the art of landscaping, and his designs for the Gardens of Versailles, which feature many iconic trees, including lindens, chestnuts, and oaks, are considered some of the finest examples of French formal gardens.

Another famous arborist is Jean-Baptiste Barillet-Deschamps, who was responsible for the planting of many of the trees in the Bois de Boulogne, one of Paris’s largest parks. Barillet-Deschamps was a pioneer in the field of arboriculture, and his innovative techniques for planting and pruning trees helped to create some of the most beautiful and vibrant green spaces in Paris. He also played a key role in establishing the concept of urban forestry, which emphasizes the importance of trees in urban environments and the need for their proper care and maintenance.

In addition to these famous arborists, Paris has also been home to many renowned city planners, who have incorporated trees into their designs for public spaces. One of the most famous of these planners is Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who was responsible for the modernization of Paris in the mid-19th century. Haussmann’s vision for the city included wide boulevards lined with trees, which not only provided shade and beauty but also helped to improve air quality in the city.

The Importance of Trees in Paris

Trees play a crucial role in defining the character of Paris, and are an essential part of the city’s landscape. They provide shade and shelter, improve air quality, and create a sense of natural beauty in an otherwise urban environment. Many of the city’s parks and gardens feature a variety of trees, including oaks, maples, chestnuts, and poplars. These trees not only provide visual interest but also serve as habitats for birds and other wildlife, creating a sense of biodiversity in the heart of the city.

But trees in Paris also face significant challenges, including air pollution, pests and diseases, and damage from construction and other activities. The city has implemented strict laws and regulations to ensure that trees are properly cared for and maintained, and that they are not damaged or destroyed by human activity. Trees are regularly pruned and inspected by certified arborists, and any damage or disease is promptly addressed.

In recent years, the importance of trees in urban environments has become more widely recognized, and Paris has become a leader in the movement towards sustainable urban forestry. The city has launched several initiatives aimed at promoting the value of trees, including tree planting campaigns, educational programs, and partnerships with local businesses and community organizations. These efforts have helped to raise awareness of the importance of trees in urban environments and have inspired other cities around the world to follow suit.

Interesting Facts About Trees in Paris
  • The oldest tree in Paris is a Robinia pseudoacacia tree in the Jardin des Plantes, which was planted in 1636.
  • The chestnut trees on the Champs-Elysées avenue are over 200 years old.
  • The Jardin des Plantes is home to over 4,500 trees and 300 species of plants.
  • The Bois de Boulogne, one of Paris’s largest parks, covers over 8 square kilometers and is home to many iconic trees, including horse chestnuts, oaks, and elms.
Links for Further Reading


In conclusion, the history of arboriculture in Paris is a fascinating and rich topic, with many iconic trees and famous arborists and city planners. Trees play an essential role in defining the character of Paris, providing beauty, shade, and a connection to nature in the heart of the city. As we continue to face the challenges of urbanization and climate change, it is more important than ever to recognize the value of trees in our urban environments and to work together to protect and care for them.

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