Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Parc Monceau, Paris

While in Paris this past fall I left tourist central to finally pay a visit to the Parc Monceau in the 8th arrondissement, namely to see the magnificent Musee Nissim de Camondo (more on that another time) and what remains of Ledoux's  Rotund de Chartres (more on that later too!).
The park was built in the 18th century as a private park for the Phillipe d'Orleans, Duke of Chartres, and his friends. Under the Haussmanization of the area, creating the city we all love today, the park was turned over to the public surrounded by a very luxury sort of 'gated' community.
Today this neighborhood is one of the chicest of the city.  Many of the grand houses have been converted into coveted apartments, corporate headquarters, and embassies much like Kalorama here in Washington, DC.
The grand house below is the European corporate headquarters for Rolex.
 The houses span many different styles but all date to the 1860s.
 Imagine working for your government in one of these beautiful embassies!
Below is the back of the Nissim de Camondo which has a private gate into the park.  6 houses have exclusive use of the park 'after hours' as their own backyard.

The park itself was designed in an English or natural style.  The area may be quite small today but is jam packed with architectural follies such as this bridge below.
 Many of the follies are original to the 18th century and were meant to lend an aire of exoticism.
The park is popular with children; this is a family neighborhood of apartments without yards after-all.
 The colonnade below surrounds a man made 'lake'.
 Many of the sculptures were put in place in the late 19th century and refer to poets and artists.
Many of the follies were built to look old in the 18th century but have been even more weathered due to wars (in this very park!) as well as pollution.
 My favorite is perhaps the small Egyptian pyramid.
Maybe it's the architect in me but I enjoy parks with sculpture and architectural follies such as these so much more than just plain nature; it's the juxtaposition.
Leave it to the French; this witty nod to the Egyptian Pyramid hides some electrical work and stands about 4' tall.