Encompassing the bustling Gare de Lyon, the 12th arrondissement sprawls along the right bank of the River Seine east of central Paris. It encompasses the historic warehouse district of Bercy and the immense Bois de Vincennes, as well as photogenic residential and artisan streets just waiting to be explored.
Things to do in 12th arrondissement
Dominating the eastern half of the 12th arrondissement is the Bois de Vincennes, a 995-hectare green space created by Emperor Napoleon III in the mid-19th century. Inspired by English landscape gardens, it features four lakes, a botanical garden and an arboretum. You can stretch your legs on the hiking and biking trails before admiring the 14th-century donjon of the Château de Vincennes.
On the edge of the Bois de Vincennes is the Paris Zoological Park, which opened in 1934 to showcase animals from across the globe. It is renowned for its 65-metre-high rock surrounded by naturally recreated landscapes where scimitar oryx, giraffes and ring-tailed lemurs roam. Step into the Great Glasshouse to experience the Amazon-Guyana biozone or listen to the calls of the wild in the Madagascan forest.
One of the 12th arrondissement’s most photographed streets is Rue Cremieux, which is lined with colourful workers' houses built in the mid-19th century. For a cultural fix, head to the Museum of Fairground Arts at the Bercy Pavilions. In addition to merry-go-rounds and carousels, its collection includes antique bicycles and a Hooghuys organ.
Getting around 12th arrondissement
The 12th arrondissement is around 15 minutes' drive from the centre of Paris and 30 minutes from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, which has flights to destinations across the globe. Long-distance trains connect to the Gare de Lyon while subway services, trams and buses travel throughout the district.