There is a terrific park in Paris that tends not to make the ‘must see’ list for first time visitors to the City of Light. The Parc Monceau is a wonderful escape in the crush of the high season of tourism in Paris, or any time of year for that matter. To most, this is just a park, but the history surrounding this wonderful space is fascinating.
The Parc Monceau was established by a wealthy society man, Philippe d’Orléans, a.k.a. the Duke of Chartres and cousin of King Louis XVI. In 1778, almost a decade after buying the plot, he decided to create a public park and enlisted a French artist, Louis Carrogis Carmontelle, to landscape his legacy. Their goal was to enchant and astound all who would visit these gardens, and they certainly succeeded. Parc Moneau features statues of famous French writers and composers as well as an Egyptian pyramid, a Chinese fort, a Dutch windmill and Corinthian pillars. Talk about a merge of cultures!
In 1860 the city of Paris purchased the Parc Monceau and 1861 saw Monsieur Haussmann get to work, transforming the park to make it even more luxurious and suited to the City of Light. Alleyways were widened and paved to make the park more accessible for grand horse carriages, and an ornate 8.3 metre fence was installed around the perimeter of the park to make it more secure. To this day the nine gated park entries are monitored by a fifth-generation park watchman who lives above the royal rotunda – very handy for the six private residences lining this park whose residents have 24-hour access to the park. The rotunda was built in 1787 and the ground floor was once used as a customs house, while the upper floor was an apartment with a view of the garden reserved for the Duke.
The Parc Monceau offers all who stroll here the opportunity to relax amongst its true and unique beauty. While there, don’t miss the Musée Jacquemart André, one of the most beautiful boutique museums in the city, and just a short stroll away from this serenity.
Métro station Monceau is located at the park’s main entrance on Boulevard de Courcelles
By Lisa Buros-Hutchins