How things change. During the reign of Louis XIV the area of Bercy on the banks of River Seine in Paris was the centre for the wine trade. There are claims that at one point it was the largest wine market worldwide. Good things rarely last though, and with time major fires and also major flooding brought about a decline in popularity. The storehouses of the large wine depot were closed in the 1950s and demolished in 1979. Then someone had a brainwave and in the 1980s it was decided to replace the waste land by a huge public park. From wine to waste to park – Parc de Bercy became Paris’ 10th largest green space when in opened to the public in 1994.
As is common in garden design, Parc de Bercy is divided into “rooms” comprising the Grandes Prairies (open lawns shaded by tall trees), the Parterres (dedicated to plant life) and the Jardin Romantique (fishponds and dunes). The layout is contemporary, but you can still easily tell that this area has a past, mainly from visible train tracks, cobble stone streets and impressively mature trees. The ice house has an ancient look and feel but was constructed as part of the new park.
The past is also noticeable in the nearby The Cour Saint-Emilion and its 42 storehouses (Bercy Village). These are registered on the French supplementary Historic Monuments list and are all that remains of the wine trading heydays. I would suggest that an agenda item for a Paris trip would be a stroll in Parc de Bercy, head over to Bercy Village for some shopping and …. a glass of wine or two to soak up historical times.
Parc de Bercy was created by architects Bernard Huet, Madeleine Ferrand, Jean-Pierre Feugas, Bernard Leroy, and by landscapers Ian Le Caisne and Philippe Raguin.