Friday, 21 September 2012

Paris off the beaten track: Parc Monceau

Paris is full of major must see monuments, sights, and museums. However, hidden within the small side streets of Paris and down some of the less traveled boulevards there are some hidden gems; secret sights that are off the beaten track but are well worth visiting. Not only will they give you some photos of Paris that are different from your friends and family, but they will also give you an insight into the real Paris of today, and the Paris of yesterday.

This weekend's off the beaten track site is a park located in the 8th arrondissement not far from the Arc de Triomphe: Parc Monceau.
The entrance off Avenue Hoche

The nice thing about Parc Monceau is that is a park that doesn't need especially fine weather to enjoy it. Because of the contents of the park it is reasonably interesting even on an overcast day (although perhaps not so interesting on a rainy day).

The Roman Colonnade

The park is at the junction of Boulevard de Courcelles, Rue de Prony and Rue Georges Berger and the easiest metro stop to take is Monceau on Line 2 which is right outside the park. For a nice walk you can take 1, 2, or 6 metro line or the A RER line to Charles de Gaulle Etoile and walk down Avenue Hoche which runs straight to the park.

A lonesome arch

The history of the park dates back to 1778 when the cousin of King Louis XVI, Duke of Chartres, Phillippe d'Orleans decided to create a public park on this space. The duke, who was a friend of the Prince of Wales in England decided that he wanted to create an English garden rather than a traditional French style (in the style of Versailles for example). Thus the park has a number of informal trails throughout the park which wind back and forth.

The rotunda at the main entrance

Another feature of the park is the collection of different objects from antiquity. These were part of d'Orleans conception, as some English gardens also had. They are known as follies - scaled down architectural models of buildings from different ages and different continents.

The Egyptian Pyramid

While the park is now smaller than its original layout, it still contains an Egyptian Pyramid, a Chinese fort, a Dutch Windmill and Corinthian pillars as well as a number of water features and bridges. Scattered through the park are statues of famous French figures including Guy de Maupassant, Frederic Chopin, Charles Gounod, Ambroise Thomas, Alfred de Musset and Edouard Pailleron.

One of the bridges

The park is great for strolling or jogging, has a play area for children, and free wi-fi. It makes it a nicer place to check your email or update your blog than Starbucks or McCafe.
The park is also a little unusual in that it is a public/private park. While the park is open from sunrise to sunset every day there are a number of apartments which surround the park who have access to the park all the time.

How to get there: Parc Monceau can be accessed by taking the metro to the "Monceau" station. This station is on the 2 line. For a nice walk you can take 1, 2, or 6 metro line or the RER A line to "Charles de Gaulle Etoile" and walk down Avenue Hoche which runs straight to the park.

For other activities that are off the beaten track and to get a taste of the real France, explore options for day trips from Paris using public transport on

Keep up to date with upcoming "off the beaten track" locations, and ideas for day trips from Paris on our Facebook page and our Twitter account.

Another view of the  colonnade and the arch

The colonnade

The pyramid

Greco-Roman pillars

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