What to do in Paris

Parc Monceau, a delight for lovers of architecture

The 17th arrondissement west of Paris is a delight for lovers of luxurious architecture. A neighborhood of the aristocracy, emblematic of the great Haussmann transformations, it contains many hidden and visible treasures. This is one of Paris's most beautiful districts, and a visit with an eye for detail is well worth your while. This is where you'll find the magnificent Parc Monceau, a place of history and relaxation, with its parterres of subtle colors and foliage so seductive at this time of year.

The initiator of this bucolic project was the Duc de Chartres, future Duc d'Orléans. He asked the painter Louis Carmontelle, also a lover of architecture and landscaping, to create the "Chartres folly" on one of his plots of land, the Plaine de Monceau, and gave him carte blanche. The artist's imagination ran wild. He exploited the undulating structure, criss-crossed by paths, and installed a river, grotto, romantic ruins, mills, pyramids and more, presenting the walker with a vision as picturesque as it is amusing.

Unfortunately, in 1852, part of the estate was sold to a banker whose sole concern was investment and profit. In return, the general public benefited, as the second half became a public garden. Jean-Charles Alphand redesigned it in the English style fashionable under Napoleon III. The charm remains, albeit in a different style. All that remains of the former "folie" are the Chartres rotunda and the naumachie, a water feature set in a setting of antique columns.

Parc Monceau entrance

A stroll through the Parc Monceau is also a chance to meet some of the great artists who lived in the area. Statues of Musset, Gounod, Chopin and Maupassant are scattered here and there. And then there are the famous gates surrounding the garden, particularly those at the entrance, a sublime masterpiece by Gabriel Davioud. Beauty, creation and nature are the order of the day.

Poursuivez votre lecture : Tout savoir sur le Jardin des Plantes de Paris

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