The Parc Monceau is doubtless the smartest garden in Paris. It is located in a very elegant and upscale neighbourhood in the 8th arrondissement of Paris and surrounded by beautiful buildings and luxury ‘Hotels Particuliers’.
The Parc Monceau was created in 1769 by the Duke of Chartres who entrusted its landscaping to the painter and architect Carmontelle. Carmontelle put there a variety of follies, which were very fashionable at that time: an Egyptian pyramid, the ‘Naumachie’, which is a pond surrounded by Corinthian columns and inspired by the Ancient Rome, greek columns, a sarcophagus,… During the French Revolution the Park underwent huge transformations.
One had then to wait until 1852 before seeing the Park be redesigned as a landscape garden. And in 1861 the Parc Monceau such as we know it today was inaugurated by Napoleon III : Some of the follies of Carmontelle are still there, including the impressive Naumachie ; many trees have been planted and other antiques and sculptures added. Among them a lovely Venitian bridge dating from the Second Empire: one of my favourites!
Today the Park offers broad lawns, where one is allowed to have a rest, a wide variety of trees, shrubs and flowers, and here and there beautiful sculptures or remains of the past. So charming! The families living in the neighbourhood enjoy to spend time there and the lawns and alleys are quite busy after school hours. One can also meet there groups of friends having a rest, a picnic or playing with a ball, a few joggers and individuals looking for a moment of peace sitting or lying on a bench or on the grass. Most of them are Parisian people living or working in the surroundings and the tourists are not very numerous. Nevertheless the Parc Monceau is really worth a visit and I love it!
The Antiques and Sculptures
I like the unusual and eclectic atmosphere created by the many antiques and memorials scattered all around the Park. The best way to discover them is to ramble through the various alleys and lawns.
The most impressive is the Naumachie…
But one can also admire a doorway of the former City Hall of Paris, in the Renaissance style
And many others, among which some follies dating back to the time of Carmontelle and several memorials to famous writers or musicians such as Gounod, Musset, Chopin, Maupassant, … which are more recent : some of them have been added since the reopening of the Parc Monceau in 1861.
The Trees and Flowers
The nature lovers also appreciate the Parc Monceau for its remarkable old trees – some of them hundred-year-old or more! – and colourful flowerbeds that change regularly.
The Lawns and Benches
Almost all the lawns of the Park are accessible to the walkers, which is quite unsual in the Parisian gardens. Many groups of friends or families enjoy having a rest or a picnic sitting or lying on the grass while teenagers love playing with a ball.
And if one is allergic to grass, one can choose among the numerous benches of the Park to rest for a while: those located in the sun are much more popular than those in the shade… yet favourable to have a short nap!
The Kids’ Corner
After school hours the Park fills up with children accompanied by their parents or nannies. Most of them gather around the playground for kids; but some prefer the lawns or one of the other activities for children: either the swings or the merry-go-round, both paying.
The Gates and surroundings
When leaving the Park one cannot miss the majestic wrought-iron gates with beautiful gildings on the top of them… at any exit! My favourite exit is the one giving onto the Avenue Van Dyck, where one can see the very smart ‘Ecole Internationale Bilingue’ whose pupils are all dressed in blue and white and further in the street one can read on a building a text-art installation of the Scottish artist Robert Montgomery: ‘Whenever you see the sun reflected in the window of a building it is an angel’.
The Parc Monceau is open everyday from 7am. The closure time depends on the seasons: 8pm from 1st October till 30 April; 9pm in September; and 10pm between 1st May and 31 August. With such wide opening hours there is no possible excuse for not visiting it!
Practical information : Parc Monceau
Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris B&B – www.goodmorningparis.fr