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Last Updated: 3 June 2022

Parc Monceau is one of the Parisians’ favourite public parks, situated in the wealthy 8th arrondissement of Paris.


A bit of history

Parc Monceau was created in 1778 by Phillippe d’Orléans, Duke of Chartres who was a cousin of King Louis XVI. As a lover of all things English, he wanted the park to be in the style of the day, inspired by the romantic English and German gardens. The Duke of Chartres commissioned the painter-writer Carmontelle to lay out a beautiful English garden.

Vue des jardins de Monceau by Carmontelle (18th century)
Vue des jardins de Monceau by Carmontelle (18th century)

About his work, Carmontelle noted:

“It is not necessary for gardens or nature to be presented in the most agreeable forms.

It’s necessary instead to preserve the charm that one encounters entering the garden and to renew it with each step so that the visitor in his soul will have the desire to revisit the garden every day and to possess it for himself.

The true art is to know how to keep the visitors there, through a variety of objects, otherwise, they will go to the real countryside to find what should be found in this garden; the image of liberty.”


The Duke’s follies

The Duke of Chartres had follies placed throughout the park which were intended to surprise and amaze visitors:

  • a small Egyptian pyramid,
  • a Roman colonnade,
  • antique statues,
  • a water lily pond,
  • a Tatar tent,
  • a farmhouse,
  • a Dutch windmill,
  • a temple of Mars,
  • a minaret,
  • an Italian vineyard,
  • an enchanted grotto,
  • and a medieval ruin.

To add to the atmosphere of the place, servants were dressed in oriental and other exotic costumes, and unusual animals such as camels were brought in there.

Parc Monceau © French Moments
Romantic ruins in the park © French Moments


The Wall of the Farmers-General

In 1787 the corporation of tax farmers had a new city wall erected all around Paris known as the Wall of the Farmers-General (Mur des Fermiers Généraux).


The rotunda

Part of the wall used to run along the northern edge of the park where a toll barrier was built. Designed by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, it takes the shape of a circular rotunda in neo-classic style.

It was known as the Pavilion de Chartres and resemble a Doric temple. The ground floor was used as a customs house and the upper floor served as an apartment for the Duke overlooking the garden.

The elegant dome was added to the structure by Gabriel Davioud in the 19th century.

Parc Monceau © French Moments
The Rotunda of Parc Monceau © French Moments

An interesting fact: in 1797 Parc Monceau was the site of the first silk parachute jump performed by André-Jacques Garnerin.


Parc Monceau in the 19th century

After the Napoleonic era, the park was restored to the family of the Duke who lost his life during the French Revolution.

The size of the park was reduced by half during the Second Empire as lots within the park were sold to real estate developers who built elegant mansions.

8th arrondissement of Paris in February © French Moments
The park in February © French Moments

Parc Monceau was purchased by the City of Paris in 1860 and was remade by Baron Haussmann as part of his great urban works of Paris.

He had two main alleys laid out north to south (Allée Ferdousi) and east to west (Allée de la Comtesse de Ségur) meeting in the centre of the garden.

They were made wide enough and paved to let carriages drive through the park.

The Baron also planted several exotic trees and flowers from around the world to embellish Parc Monceau.

Autumn in Park Monceau, Paris © French Moments
Autumn in Park Monceau, Paris © French Moments


Features of Parc Monceau

The area of the park covers 8.2 hectares and its circumference is approximately 1.1 km long.

Most of the original follies from the 18th century are now gone, except for the Egyptian pyramid. Nevertheless, the park contains a few structures that were added by Baron Haussmann in the 19th century, including statues and exotic trees.

Map of Monceau Park by French Moments

The park features a rock topped by a beehive. A small waterfall adds to the enchantment of the place.

Parc Monceau © French Moments
Parc Monceau © French Moments
Spring in February in Paris - Parc Monceau 04 © French Moments
The insect box © French Moments

Next to it stands the miniature Egyptian pyramid, one of the few original follies still existing today.

Monceau Park © French Moments
The pyramid folly © French Moments

Just a few meters off Allée de la Comtesse de Ségur, architect Gabriel Davioud added a small bridge modelled after the Rialto bridge in Venice.

Parc Monceau Paris 04 copyright French Moments
A Venetian feel in Paris © French Moments

A bit further on, the Renaissance arch is a relic from the Paris City-Hall which was burnt down during the Commune of Paris.

Remains of the former Paris City-Hall © French Moments
The remains of the former City-Hall © French Moments

Nearby, the oval basin (la Naumachie) is bordered by a long Corinthian colonnade that once was part of a church in Saint-Denis which was dismantled in 1719.

Parc Monceau © French Moments
Parc Monceau © French Moments

Each of the four main entrances of the park has fine wrought-iron gates by Gabriel Davioud.

Wrought-iron gates by Gabriel Davioud © French Moments
Wrought-iron gates at the park’s entrance © French Moments

Today, the park features a play area for children, two sandpits, a merry-go-round, a candy store and a puppet show.

Merry-go-round © French Moments
The Merry-go-round © French Moments
Parc Monceau © French Moments
The play area © French Moments


Parc Monceau in paintings

Claude Monet painted five pictures in the park (three in 1876 and two in 1878).

Painting by Monet
Painting by Monet

The park also appears in the paintings of many other artists: Georges Braque, Henri Brispot, Paul Michel Dupuy, Georges d’Espagnat and Roger Guit.

Henri Brispot - Les belles au parc Monceau
Henri Brispot – Les belles au parc Monceau


Find out more!

Parc Monceau © French Moments
Parc Monceau © French Moments
Gems of Paris by French Moments
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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  1. Pierre, merci as usual for an informative article and beautiful photos. Parc Monceau is one of my favorites in Paris and you captured it beautifully. The hôtels particuliers which border it are equally lovely!

  2. I love your communications. I’m a photographer and parent of an expat living in Paris. I live in Boston. I have a few photos and will have more as time goes by that you could use at no charge. I’d like to help you out as I love your work. You do a great service to all who explore France especially Paris.

  3. Dear Pierre, I loved your article on the gardens and the paintings. In April, one garden I found extremely interesting was Bois de Vincennes. The design of Parc Floral was amazing! Unless I missed it, you didn't mention the Rene-Dumont Agronomy Garden in Vincennes and the Colonial Expositions held there in 1907 and 1931. The remains of the exposition are thought provoking, the park serene. Though not a place for first time visitors to Paris, I thought it definitely of interest to lovers of French history.

    p.s. I finally found "the elegant 18th century neoclassical pavilion hidden at the end of Colbert Square" in the 11th arrondissement from your excellent digital book, "Unexpected Curiosities of Paris". I felt as though I were on a treasure hunt, a very special find! Thank you for the experience!

    1. Thank you Penny. I visited the Parc Floral in Bois de Vincennes and still have to report my findings in a blog article! 🙂
      I’m so happy you found the pavilion of Colbert Square, well done!

  4. Pierre,
    Thanks for your informative article. A relative in France is interested in Parc Monceau (and all things Paris) so I sent him this article and recommended your emailed blog.

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