If planning to be in Paris in the spring or summer, then you'll want to take advantage of the outdoors. For that we'd suggest a focus on in-town flowering parks and easy day trips outside the city to explore the grounds of some spectacular chateaux. Here is a quick go to list with useful facts and links.
FLOWERS & GREENERY IN PARIS:
Jardin des plantes - 7 rue Cuvier, 5th Arrondissemont
Paris' Botanical Garden has a history which goes back to 1626, and offer 28 hectares or 69 acres of flowers, plants, herbal gardens and research. All of this framed by architecturally significant pavilions, including the grande galerie de l'Evolution that features dinosaurs - many of whom were plant eaters in keeping with our theme.
Parc Monceau - 8th Arrondissemont, near Arc de Triomphe
A trip to this park rewards you with architectural ruins and follies set amidst waterfalls, hills and lakes. The park dates from 1769 when Louis XV ruled. There is a gate house designed by Claude Nicola Ledoux, the famous French Neoclassicist.
Jardin du Luxembourg - 7th Arrondissemont, Saint Germain
Created in 1612 for Marie de'Medici for her new palace, which frames these picture- perfect flower beds and grand fountain.
Montmartre Cemetery - 20 avenue Rachel, near Sacre-Cour
We know what you're thinking, a cemetery on your vacation?! All that death! Well, this cemetery near to the Sacre Couer is architecturally fantastic and its occupants are a who's who of French history that includes Degas, Zola, Truffant, Greuze and Nijinsky, among many others. The website link above has a useful map page to find their tombs.
CHATEAUX DAY TRIPS:
Photos: Top image is Vaux-le-Vicomte courtesy of the chateau. Bottom images are of Domaine Chantilly, from the chateau's website.
There is Versailles, but treat yourself to these less visited, yet architecturally spectacular residences.
Built for Nicolas Fouquet in 1661, this chateau's design was so good that it set the standard for how grand the future Versailles would be. Vaux-le-Comte is a high point of design, from its perfectly on-axis oval Grand Salon, to the integrated formal gardens spread over 40 hectares (100 acres) and views.
For eight centuries this was the residence of French Kings, as well as Napoleon's favorite. Of note, see Emperor Napoleon's apartments, the throne room and the Theatre Imperial. Fontainebleau has a pretty village right at its gates offering cafes and restaurants before heading back to Paris.
On the expansive grounds of this 18th century chateau's gardens are the "great stables," considered the grandest in Europe. Chantilly has France's second largest collections of illuminated manuscripts and antique paintings. The house is intact, as its last owner bequeathed it and its contents to the Institut de France upon his death. The chateau also host equestrian events and an important annual flower show, Les Journees de Plantes de Chantilly.
Photos: Above: Vaux-le-Vicomte and its Grand Salon, courtesy of the chateau.
Top of Article: Chateau Fontainebleau grand staircase, woods and view of the house from the gardens. Below: The flowering beds planted next to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, taken by Red Maps.