Parc Monceau Paris is one of the most romantic parks in the French capital. Surrounded by fine mansions in the 8th arrondissement, it’s a wonderful park for couples or families, and one of the most picturesque parks in the city.
We loved the range of things to do in Parc Monceau. from exploring the wonderful Neoclassical colonnade (in the lead shot), to curios like the small stone pyramid and the abundance of activities for kids. These include one of the most charming carousels in Paris and pony rides along the gorgeous tree-lined avenues, as well as a great playground.
Our Parc Monceau Paris guide shows and describes all of these and more, as well as showing you how to get there and revealing some fascinating historical facts about this lovely Parisian park. We also show you the best things to see nearby, including one of the top museums in Paris. Enjoy.
Why Visit Parc Monceau Paris
Parc Monceau is one of the most beautiful parks in Paris.
It’s a great park for families, with lots for kids to do, from a large busy playground with climbing area to a gorgeous carousel based on Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.
It’s also a wonderful park for romantic walks, with some salvaged buildings including an Ancient Greek-style colonnade and a 16th century arcade from the old Paris City Hall.
There are also several beautiful follies, including pillar bases and a stone pyramid which all contribute to the visual appeal of this superb park.
Several artists – including, most famously, Claude Monet – have also been drawn to beautiful Parc Monceau and captured it on canvas for posterity. If you’re interested in visiting Monet locations, he also made a series of twelve paintings of nearby Gare Saint-Lazare, one of the main railway stations in Paris.
Parc Monceau also has an unusual claim to historical fame, as you’ll discover in the following section.
Parc Monceau Paris History
The land that later comprised Parc Monceau was acquired by the powerful Philippe d’Orleans, Duke of Chartres, from 1769 onwards, and by 1778 he decided to turn the land into a public park.
He commissioned Louis Carrogis Carmontelle to design the gardens. He placed much emphasis on the various follies around the gardens, an unusual collection of monuments and rescued (and re-purposed) parts of buildings that, to me, brings to mind the Italianate fantasy village of Portmeirion in North Wales).
A few years later, Scottish architect Thomas Blaikie was brought in to turn it into more of an English-style park.
In 1793 Philippe d’Orleans was executed by guillotine and the park came under the ownership of the City of Paris.
In 1797, Parc Monceau Paris was the scene of the first-ever successful parachute jump. Balloonist Andre-Jacques Garnerin ascended to around 3,000 feet (1,000 metres) before severing a rope connecting his basket and parachute.
He landed safely, and went on to conduct further flying and parachuting experiments. In 1798 he overcame considerable opposition to make a short flight from Parc Monceau with a woman, Citoyenne Henri. Again, the flight ended safely, this time to the north of Paris.
Parc Monceau Paris was remodelled in 1861 under the auspices of urban planner Baron Haussmann, with the addition of a central avenue and new footpaths.
In 1871, Parc Monceau was the scene of a massacre following the downfall of the Paris Commune, with an unknown number of Communards killed there.
Things To Do In Parc Monceau Paris
As you enter Parc Monceau from the Boulevard de Courcelles, one of the first things you see is the beautiful carousel, Le Manège de Parc Monceau. Like several other Paris carousels, it has a theme – in this case Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days.
My son adored it and had a few goes on it. You can buy single rides or a batch of 6 or 10. He visited several other Parisian carousels and this is one of his favourites. And mine too.
Rarely for Paris, Parc Monceau is an English-style park, with an informal layout including many pathways, not to mention a variety of features including sculptures.
We then had a walk around the adjacent water feature which has a picturesque stone bridge. After two or three minutes we reached the Corinthian-style colonnade, which was the originally part of the Rotunda des Valois, a memorial to King Henri II conceived by his wife Catherine de Medicis, but later knocked down then rebuilt in Parc Monceau.
Nearby, a section of Renaissance-era arcade was salvaged after the destruction of the former Paris Hotel de Ville during the Paris Commune of 1871.
Several follies were built around Parc Monceau during the 19th century, including the Egyptian-style pyramid. Some of the original follies, including a Dutch-style windmill and a Tatar tent, have not survived. A number of memorial statues have also been added, including figures of Chopin and poet Guy de Maupassant.
Kids under the weight of 30 kg can enjoy a pony ride around part of the park – it’s quite steep in price, around 9 euros for a 15-minute walk around Par Monceau, but it’s a wonderful experience for them all the same.
Many families tend to congregate around the western end of the park, where there’s a good playground with a rope-climbing apparatus that our son was drawn to straight away. Close to this you’ll also find the largest open grass area in the park.
This is one of the best places in Parc Monceau, and a great way to watch Parisian life go by. Some families enjoyed picnics there, while kids and older guys played football, rhythmic gymnasts twirled their colourful ribbons and one woman spent about twenty minutes somersaulting back and forth across the grass. All the while the languid beats of a boombox soundtracked the whole scene.
The entrance (and exit) to the park is notable for a Neoclassical pavilion that started out as an apartment for Philippe d’Orleans – the dome was added during Haussmann’s changes to the park.
The Parc Monceau Monet Connection
French Impressionist artist Claude Monet made six paintings of Parc Monceau – the first three were made in 1876 and the others in 1878.
Two of the paintings depict a group of people sitting in the park, while the others are general park scenes. Surprisingly he didn’t paint the Colonnade, which seems an ideal subject for him to work his magic on.
Where Is Parc Monceau Paris
Parc Monceau is in a quiet part of the north-west of central Paris, midway between the Arc de Triomphe and Place de Clichy (around 1 km from both).
It’s also around 1 km to Gare Saint Lazare, the departure point for trains from Paris to Normandy.
How To Get To Parc Monceau Paris
Monceau is the Parc Monceau Metro station, and is on line 2, between Villiers and Courcelles stations.
The number 30 bus also stops outside the park (Monceau bus stop) on Boulevard de Courcelles.
Parc Monceau Opening Hours
Parc Monceau is open 7 am to 10 pm daily in the summer months, and 7 am to 8 pm during the winter months.
Things To See Near Parc Monceau Paris
Parc Monceau is in relatively off the beaten path in Paris terms, and it’s still very much a quiet corner of the city.
The two closest Paris attractions are museums within metres of the park’s boundary. The Musee Cernuschi is right outside one of the park’s gates, houses an excellent collection of Asian art, mosty from the Far East (China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam).
Just around the corner, the Musee Nissim de Camondo is one of the best small museums in Paris. I visited it twice when living in Paris in the 1990s, and strongly recommend it. The early 20th century mansion houses the collection of Moise de Camondo, which consists of late 18th century French decorative art, including luxurious furniture and a vast range of objets d’art.
The nearest top Paris attraction to Parc Monceau is the magnificent Arc de Triomphe, which is on Place de l’Etoile, three stops along Metro line 2 from Monceau. It’s one of the most famous monuments in Paris, and my son and I spent a couple of wonderful hours exploring it and taking in the views of the city. It’s one of the two or three best viewpoints in Paris, and one of the highlights is one of the best Eiffel Tower views you’ll find anywhere in the city.
David Angel is a Welsh writer, photographer and historian who has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveller, the Guardian, the Times and Sunday Times.
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