Le Parc Monceau

Lingering at the edge of the Champs-Elysées-Louvre quarter, this sublime park was constructed in the 18th century by the Duc de Chartres, who had envisioned it as an extraordinary and picturesque getaway resulting in the parc’s nickname “la folie de Chartres” or Chartres’s madness. After numerous reconstruction projects, the park has become an elegant English garden, while conserving its staggered stages.

Today the graceful buildings surround the garden and it remains largely overlooked by tourists despite of its rich history. Parisians, on the other hand, have passed many a sunny afternoon on it’s the magnificent grounds.

A Timeless Romance

Upon falling into the hands of the Duc d’Orléans, the Parc Monceau was transformed into an extravagant “land of illusions” where all “times and places” unite. As a result the park swelled with fake temples and ruins. When Napoleon III repurchased the park during the Second Empire, the park diminished in size while growing in opulence. The extra land was used to build luxury housing for high rollers of the bourgeoisie comprising of tycoons and powerful businessmen.

Today the remnants of the different periods survive scattered throughout the park. The rotunda at the main entrance, for example, once served as the Duc d’Orléans’s watchpost. On the right, vestiges of the roman temples still exist. In the depths of the park, pyramids and Greek columns also recall Chartres’s madness. Furthermore, a bridge, a cave, and a waterfall represent some of the features installed under Baron Haussmann.

As you stroll through this florid garden behind the groves, statues of great French artists such as Maupassant, Chopin, Musset, and Falguière beg to inspire a verse or two for a lover— best declared in front of the oval basin surrounded by corintian columns all nestled in a rose garden, of course. The basin, known as a “naumachia” imitates the roman natatoriums where naval wars would be staged. Romanticism at its best!

Around the Park

A nice little walk through the sumptuous hôtel particuliers constructed during the Second Empire will bring you back down to earth. Take the avenue Van Dyck for example. At building number five, the renowned chocolatiers Menier constructed a hotel whose lofty façade will leave you completely enchanted, as it did Zola who it inspired in one of his novels.

Related articles :

Le Jardin des Plantes
Le Parc de Belleville

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