From Jussieu to Bercy
Starting point: M° Jussieu (2.8 miles, 5th & 13th districts)
Place Jussieu is dominated by uninteresting university buildings, erected in the 1960s by the architect Albert, which are crushed by the 280 feet of the Zamansky Tower. The wine market warehouses once stood here.
Take rue Linné on the left. At the corner with rue Cuvier, the Linné Fountain is a tribute to the father of palaentology.
If you have enough time on your hands, you can go into the Jardin des Plantes (botanical garden). Especially in spring, its lovely "Jardin alpin" (alpine garden) is a must-see, in my opinion!
Leave the garden through the place Valhubert exit and turn right onto boulevard de l'Hôpital. Past the Austerlitz Railway Station and square Marie-Curie, you will reach the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital (no. 47). Go through the porch into a large French garden. In front of you you will see a very long neo-Classical façade, with the Saint-Louis Chapel in the middle. You can enter the chapel, which is a superb work by Bruant, inspired by Le Vau (1670).
Leave the chapel from the left and go through the porch of the building on the right. You are now in the "cour Sainte-Claire". Walk towards the left, where you will find badly-kept buildings dating back to 1684. There were the notorious "Bâtiments de la Force", where women (thieves or prostitutes) were imprisoned before being deported to Louisiana or Canada (French colonies in those days).
Follow the left wall and turn right, until you get to allée des Petites Loges. On the left, on allée des Étoffes, you will notice three low, recently-restored houses. "Raving madwomen" (18th century definition!) were confined in these houses, built shortly before the Revolution. So quiet now, this place evokes such sorrow and despair!
Go back to allée des Petites Loges, reach allée de l'Hôpital Général, where you will turn left until you get to the boulevard Vincent-Auriol exit. You will have walked past the Charcot Library. It is named after the psychiatrist who radically changed the treatment of mental patients.
Cross the boulevard under the Chevaleret Métro station. Past the tracks of the Austerlitz Railway Station, take avenue de France on the right. Go up the steps to the "esplanade" of the National Library. At the iron beam sculpture, go down the steps to quai François-Mauriac, cross it and take allée Arthur-Rimbaud along the Seine. Follow it until the Tolbiac Bridge. Cross the bridge and take the shaded rue Joseph-Kessel. You will soon be able to enter, on the right, Bercy Park's "Romantic garden". With a surface of 13 acres, Bercy Park is among the city's newest green spaces, together with the André Citroën Park, in the 15th district, and the Belleville Park, in the 20th district.
A section of the park, with a beautiful rose-garden and a vine-yard, has been dedicated to Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister who was shot to death in Tel Aviv in 1995.
You could not find a better place to take a break! Should you wish to eat or drink something, there are lots of cafés and restaurants to choose from just outside the park. Try a restaurant or brasserie at Bercy Village, for example (M° Cour-Saint-Émilion, line 14), www.bercyvillage.com/-Cafes-restaurants-.html