Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Parc Monceau

The Parc Monceau is one of the prettiest parks in Paris, and given that all parks in Paris are pretty, that's saying a lot. I finally got around to making a video of the park, which you can see at right.

The park is in a part of town where the “good people” (meaning rich people) live, and you see mostly well-behaved French people and their children there, along with nannies bringing children to the park while their parents are working long hours to earn their substantial incomes.

The park is also surrounded by extremely expensive homes on three sides, some of which have a private entrance to the park 24 hours a day, although the private entrances don't look like they are used much. The north side of the park parallels the boulevard de Courcelles.

One of the interesting things about this park is that it's filled with “follies,” meaning make-believe monuments and ruins, built just to make the park interesting. The follies are not as old as they look, although they were built 200 years ago so they are not exactly new. There's an Egyptian pyramid (or at least something that people in the 18th century thought looked like an Egyptian pyramid), a pond surrounded by ancient-looking columns, and numerous other artifacts. It makes the park more interesting to look at and reflects a fad that was in full swing at the time the park was designed.

There's also a path that runs completely around the park, just over 1 km long, which is much favored by joggers (so much so that I sometimes wonder if it's completely safe). For kids, there's a playground, a sandbox, a roller rink, swings, a merry-go-round, and a snack bar and toy shop.

Overall it's a very pleasant place to visit. I tried to capture its charm on video, but of course you really have to be there to appreciate it.

My most unusual visit to the park was some years ago when I went there not long before closing, in winter time when the sun sets early. The park was effectively in the dark, with just silhouettes of the trees against a cloudy sky that glowed orange. It was rather spooky and pleasant at the same time.

This park also has some vast expanses of grass to relax on, and the landscaping is constantly being maintained and tweaked. While I was recording this video, there was an exhibition of sorts of different landscaping arrangements representing different parts of the world, which was pretty cool.

There's also an artificial mountain in the park, but that has been closed to the public for years. It seems that all the artificial mountains and tunnels in Paris parks have been closed in recent years. Maybe they are worried about liability.

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