The Champ de Mars is a large public greenspace in Paris, France, located in the seventh arrondissement, between the Eiffel Tower to the northwest and the Ecole Militaire to the southeast. The park is named after the Campus Martius ("Mars Field") in Rome, a tribute to the Roman god of war. The name also alludes to the fact that the lawns here were formerly used as drilling and marching grounds by the French military.
Originally, the Champ de Mars was part of a large flat open area called Grenelle, which was reserved for market gardening. Citizens would claim small plots and exploit them by growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers for the local market. However, the plain of Grenelle was not an especially fertile place for farming.
The construction, in 1765, of the École Militaire designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, was the first step toward the Champ de Mars in its present form. Grounds for military drills were originally planned for an area south of the school, the current location of the Place De Fontenoy
. The choice to build an esplanade to the north of the school led to the erection of the noble facade which today encloses the Champ de Mars. The planners leveled the ground, surrounded it with a large ditch and a long avenue of elms, and, as a final touch, the esplanade was enclosed by a fine grille-work fence.
The Isle of Swans, formerly a riverine islet at the location of the northeastern foot of the Eiffel Tower, was, for the sake of symmetry and pleasing perspectives, attached to the shore. (Note that the Isle of Swans discussed here should not be confused with the Isle of Swans that sits in the middle of the Seine downstream and around the next bend in the river, between the fifteenth and sixteenth arrondissements.)