Tucked away in the northwest corner of town, in the very affluent residential district straddling the border between the 8e and 17e arrondissements, the Parc Monceau is another of Paris's hidden gems.
The park was commissioned by Louis Philippe Joseph, the Duke of Chartres and Orléans, an aristocrat whose democratic ideals led him to renounce his nobility and adopt the name Philippe-Egalité after the Revolution. (It didn't work, though; he was later guillotined.) The painter Carmontelle designed several whimsical features for the duke, including a Dutch windmill, a Roman temple, a farm, medieval ruins, and a pagoda; amused neighbors son dubbed the park "Chartres's folly." Fittingly, the world's first parachutist swooped in for a landing here.
The park is the most English-style garden in all of Paris, which for us is a definite plus; we definitely prefer the shady, flowery hideaways of that style to the French obsession with low-cut hedges baking in the unyielding sun.
The green space, immensely popular among local children, is surrounded by a majestic black-and-gold wrought-iron fence and magnificent Second Empire houses.
The kiddies skate and play while adults read and lounge in the shade.
The Rotonde anchors the gate at the entrance to the park.
The park boasts a number of odd items, from its mysterious inexplicable pyramid to a number of tombs of unknown origin.
Like other major parks, it also has a small café if you need a nosh.
The Neumachie is a placid lake bordered by an incomplete ring of columns, designed to look like ancient Greco-Roman ruins.
It's my grandmother's dream come true; the pond is stocked with massive fish who look capable of climbing out and walking down to the Métro. Beware.
The park's most notable feature is a classical bridge crossing a highly landscaped creek.
In between sessions writing the world's longest book, Proust enjoyed strolling the quiet grounds and contemplating the city's largest tree, an Oriental plane tree 200 years old and 23 feet across. (This isn't that one, but it's nice too.)
The proximity of the larger Parc des Buttes Chaumont (walking distance, in fact) makes it slightly more of a draw for us this trip, but we'll definitely file this one away for future reference if we ever get an apartment in the northern or northwestern part of town.
The Other Paris