Monceau Park

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In 1860, the old village of Monceau (or Mousseaux) near Paris was annexed to the capital along with eleven other communes. The Monceau plain, which in those days was an immense wasteland, bordered on its outer sides by the Fermiers généraux farmland, was soon to become a giant housing development – not even “la Folie de Chartres”, the magnificent garden created at the end of the XVIIIth century for Philippe Egalité, was to be spared. Whilst half of that park was sold to the banker Pereire, the other part was handed over to the director of the City of Paris' “Plantations and Promenades” bureau, Adolphe Alphand.

Although this operation stirred up fierce criticism, notably from a certain Louis Lazare – Lazare claimed that, in 1808, Napoleon Ist had been violently against any dismemberment of the Parc Monceau – Alphand's work quickly transformed the old garden into a pleasant park, to general approval. By integrating the ruins from the previous “la Folie de Chartres” park, (namely, the “naumachie” pool and columns, the bridge, the pyramid and the obelisk) and by introducing new ones (such as an arcade from the Hôtel de Ville), Alphand composed a romantic landscape perfect for strolling in. In his Mémoires, Haussmann highly praised the park, considering it “the most sumptuous and at the same time the most elegant promenade in Paris”. Indeed, chic society of the Second Empire immediately adopted the area, building some of the finest private houses in the neighbourhood. Emile Zola in his work La Curée painted a very colourful picture of
the bourgeoisie flaunting its opulence around the gentile Parc  Monceau.

Discover more about the Parc Monceau and the other green spaces provided for Paris by the Second Empire. Take a wander around our itinerary “Parks and Gardens: Parisian strolls of the Second Empire“.

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