Parc Monceau – a bit of England in Paris
Parc Monceau is a lovely little park in the 8th arrondissement. Slightly more than one-third the size of Luxembourg Gardens which was built to resemble the Florence gardens of Catherine de Médicis’ childhood, Parc Monceau is an English style garden. This park has a less structured feel than the Luxembourg Gardens and I was amazed at how the noise of the city of Paris just melted away as I wandered the little allées. The Duke of Chartres, Phillippe d’Orléans directed the building of this lovely park that is filled with follies, quiet paths and gurgling waterfalls.
Parc Monceau Rotunda Entrance
Let’s start at the entrance. Parc Monceau was easy to find. I took metro line 2 to the Monceau stop in the 8th arrondissement. After an early morning walk through the Montmartre neighborhood taking photographs, I arrived at the Parc entrance and was rewarded with this not-to-miss rotunda.
Why build a rotunda at the entrance gates? This rotunda is merely a folly – an ornamental building with no practical purpose. According to the dictionary, the word folly is derived from the Old French word folie which meant madness . No doubt there are some people who must have thought it madness to build this rotunda at the gates!
Parc Monceau Pond and Follies
Entering through the majestic gates, I found this beautiful semi-circle of columns. They look like the remnants of a château or at least a very grand house. However, later research revealed that the columns are the remnants of a funerary monument designed by Catherine de Médici. She intended the funerary to house the remains of her husband, herself and their children but that never came to pass.
In its beginning stages, the funerary monument was located to the north of the Basilica of St Denis. To help you envision its projected size, this rotunda was to be 98 feet (30 meters) in diameter! The funerary never came to fruition and the Médicis were entombed inside the Basilica. The Duke of Chartres acquired and moved the columns to Parc Monceau in 1773 (Paris Secret et Insolite). Maybe it was just my imagination but the garden paths always seemed to lead me back to this beautiful pond with its majestic columns! No matter the angle, I think the views are simply breathtaking.
I discovered another beautiful view of the columns and pond when I walked to the top of this little footbridge.
Parc Monceau has both a pyramid and arch among its follies. The pyramid is almost indiscernable in the glare of the morning sun but this path afforded the best view of the pyramid without trees (and without climbing over that little barrier!).
Parc Monceau Statues
There are multiple statues in the Parc dedicated to musicians. Here, a T’ai-chi group surrounded the statue dedicated to the French composer Charles Gounod.
I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through this park with its winding paths. Based on the number of strollers and prams, both young and old alike enjoy its beauty and I lamented the fact that I had not brought a book along to just stay and enjoy the day as the woman above with her knitting.
Did you know that Claude Monet painted 6 different views of Parc Monceau? You can see them at The Met in New York.