Paris’s Parc Monceau
What a gorgeous green space—another in Paris! Locals love it and you see relatively few tourists here. This 8.2 ha park, first laid out in 1769 by the Duc de Chartres, with garden designer Carmontelle, is in a pretty residential neighborhood, so it’s ringed with mostly 4-5-storey buildings, in classic cream or grey stone. A tall wrought-iron fence topped with gold-color spikes encloses the park. A large entrance, Pavillon de Chartres, in the center off Blvd. Courcelles by the Metro entrance (which has one of the old-style signs) has WCs.
It’s beautiful any time of the year, but especially in the warmer months. I have been there in spring, summer and fall and it was always bustling at lunch time: Joggers doing the outer circuit and stretching at the railings; workers having a sack lunch; groups of business men in suits strolling the paths; people on rollerblades or skate boards; people sitting reading or working on a laptop; others just soaking up the sun; parents with babies in strollers or toddlers playing in the playground; a dad in business suit, who had obviously met mom and baby here for lunch; a couple of large groups of elementary school kids, all very boisterous in their plain school uniforms of black/navy/grey pants/shorts/skirts, with a white blouse.
A mini sample of Paris life.
Thick green lawns (many permitted for picnicking—notable because often lawns are off-limits, ‘pelouse interdite’) are criss-crossed by gravel paths lined with green benches. There are huge trees (I noticed sycamore, oak, chestnut and fir), which entice a large variety of birds; lots of very pretty flower beds; a small wooded ‘hill’; and many white marble statues of writers and musicians—I found Alfred de Musset, Guy de Maupassant, Edouard Palleron, Chopin and Gounod. There is also a beguiling scattering of other interesting objects, like a pyramid, Greek-inspired cupids, old Greek columns in a ‘ruined’ style, and the Naumachie, a Greek-style Corinthian colonnade at the end of a pool with drooping willows. A Renaissance Arch apparently was a part of the old Hotel de Ville that was set on fire during the commune riots.
A small kiosk sells snacks (crepes, gaufres (waffles), hot dogs etc), drinks in cans, and
As a park, this is perfect. You can relax, enjoy the outdoors and can feel you’re away from a large city—the sound of voices and the wind rustling the leaves is much louder than that of the distant traffic. It’s very clean—lots of garbage bags all over, which people are very careful to use, and many little cleaning vehicles drive around.
One of my favorite parks in a city famed for parks.
Metro: Line 2, Monceau