The medieval village of Monchauf
Parc Monceau is a public park developed on the property of the Duke of Chartres, a cousin of King Louis XVI.
It is located in one of the most sought after areas of Paris, which in the 9th century belonged to the Abbaye of Saint-Denis.
The monks enclosed their property within a perimeter wall and developed a small settlement on a hillock.
The village was known as Montchauf (from the Latin Mons Calvus – Bare hill) then Monceau.
It was one of the few settlements that dotted the land of moors, fields and forest, which remained a royal hunting ground until the 18th century.
Carmontelle’s extravagant park
The Duke purchased the estate of Montchauf in 1778 and spared no expenses to build his magnificent Folie de Chartres.
He commissioned the architect Carmontelle with the landscaping of an extravagant English park.
Carmontelle produced a Roman temple, antique statues, a river with waterfall, water-lily pond, Chinese bridge, farmhouse, Dutch windmill, minaret, small Egyptian pyramid, fake gravestones and a grotto nestled among trees, thickets, bushes and flower beds!
The Colonnade de Carmontelle, the oval pond surrounded with Corinthian columns, is one of the original park’s few surviving features.
A decade later, the landscape gardener Thomas Blaikie transformed the park in an English garden, but the General Farmers Wall built in 1787 considerably reduced its size.
This unpopular fiscal wall demolished at the French Revolution.
All that is left of it is the Pavillon de Chartres built by the architect Ledoux.
Initially called Barrière de Chartres, it served as Customs Office and observation post.
The Folie de Chartres became state property at the Revolution, but was returned to Chartres’ descendant, Louis Philippe I, during the 19th century.
Creation of the Parc Monceau
Half of the remaining park was developed with luxury properties in the 1850’s.
The City of Paris purchased the other 9 hectares and the landscape architect Alphand created the current Parc Monceau.
Alphand replanted the park and created a circular path and two main alleys that traverse the park from east to west and north to south.
The architect Davioud added the superb dome roof to the Pavilion de Chartres – Rotonde du Parc Monceau.
The elegant rotunda is today a listed Historical Monument and main entrance to the Parc Monceau.
Davioud also replaced Carmontelle’s Chinese bridge with the current one, which is modelled on the Rialto in Venice.
He also restored his superb Colonnade and oval pool, miniature Egyptian pyramid and fake gravestones.
Finally, he created the four monumental gilded wrought iron entrance gates.
A Renaissance arcade, recovered from Paris Hôtel-de-Ville which destroyed during the Paris Commune of 1871, was later placed in the park.
The Parc Monceau is very popular with office workers, but also with young families because of its children recreation ground and permanent merry-go-round.
Opening hours: 7 am-10 pm in Summer – 7 am-8 pm in Winter.
Free Wi-FiDirections: 8th District
Metro: Monceau on Line 2
Coordinates: 48.879683 – Long 2.308955