France:
Parc Monceau, Paris.

What? 

A beautiful Parisian park beloved by locals and ignored by tourists.


Why visit?
Paris has many parks and although Parc Monceau is as pretty as many others, it's not well-known to out-of-towners.


What really sets the park apart from others is the ability to follow in Manet's footsteps and have your own Déjeuner sur l'herbe (picnic on the grass).

The park is also flanked by two fascinating museums.


Where?
Between the stately 8th and the bourgeois 17th arrondissements of Paris, a 15 minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe. Map. 

The 18th century rotunda forms the main entrance to the park. It used to be a toll house, part of a longer enclosure around Paris. 
PARC MONCEAU DOES all the things that Parisian parks do best: a gilded frilly entrance gate, 19th century follies that give the impression of faded grandeur, precisely laid-out flower beds and a decent-sized playground.

Most visitors to Paris flock to the Jardin de Luxembourg and the Tuilereries. As beautiful as these famous gardens are, they are also rather formal: sitting is only allowed in the (in)famous metal Parisian garden chairs (and there are never enough of them).


A few years ago, Parisian park administrators had their own little mini French Revolution. 'What if we actually allow people to walk and sit on the grass? C'est genial!' 

Careful not to move to quickly, lest heads would roll, they decided to experiment in a few parks in the outer arrondissements and remove the 'Don't walk on the grass' signs.

These days, on a glorious spring or summer day, Parc Monceau is one of the best places to have a picnic sur l'herbe in Paris. Just be warned that on a warm weekend day, you won't be the only one!

Summer time  = picnic time in Parc Monceau!
Parc Monceau's rebelliousness started in the late 18th century, when it was laid out in the more 'liberal' English style rather than the formal French style used for other Parisian parks. Most paths meander, passing a fake Greek ruin, a fake pyramid, as well as a number of statues of semi-famous French people and multiple flower beds. 
Statue of the author Guy de Maupassant.
The park is a delight to visit any time of year. There are a few ancient plane trees that impress all year round, as well as lots of cherry trees that blossom in spring, a ginko tree that turns yellow in autumn and a persimmon tree that drops orange fruit in winter. 
Clouds of pink cherry blossoms. 
A shower of golden ginko leaves. 
Girl scouts gather under a 150 year old plane tree
Also keep an envious eye out for the various mansions and hotels particuliers that line the park. Some of these actually have private access to the park, making it effectively a private park for these lucky few. If you have a few million euro to spare you might be able purchase your own romantic pied a terre here as well.   
One of many pieces of prime real estate overlooking the park. 
Two wonderful museums flank the park: 
The Musée Cernuschi, which feautures an outstanding collection of Asian art (and which is gratuit to boot) and the Musée Nissim de Camondo, a house museum with fine art and furniture in a stately old home and a tragic family history. 

Getting there:
Take the Metro to Monceau station. Or if you prefer to stay above ground, bus no. 30, which runs from Trocadero to near Gare du Nord, provides a very scenic ride to Parc Monceau.

Useful links:

City of Paris website

1 comments:

  1. Very nice "neighborhood" park every city can be jealous of!

    ReplyDelete

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