New series has begun! In the "Park it in Paris" series, I write about the city's parks - some of the best spots to relax, people-watch, and mingle with the locals.
Living in Paris has not only taught me about living abroad, but has shown me what it is like to live in a city. I now understand the need to seek out parks for relaxation and a healthy dose of nature. (Something I never considered doing before with a backyard in the suburbs.)
While most of my friends and family back in the US are caught up in the polar vortex this winter, the worst we can say about this season in Paris (knock on wood!) is that it is overcast, gray, and comes with a fair share of rain showers. When the sun does come out, I stop whatever I'm doing and run outdoors for a fleeting moment to stock up on my vitamin D.
Which is exactly what I did last Sunday, on an abnormally beautiful and quite mild afternoon. Days like this make me boldly declare that winter is one of my favorite times to be in Paris. I love how the city empties out (relatively) of tourists as you have to really want to be here during such unpredictable and often dreary weather. I imagine a sort of solidarity between fellow locals as we defiantly huddle near heat lamps on cafe terraces, sipping a drink and in most cases smoking a cigarette. Parisians are a hearty bunch and I feel more "authentic" logging weeks of winter under my belt to earn the fruits of spring ahead.
Thankful for an afternoon of sunshine, I went to Parc Monceau in the 8th arrondissement for a short walk. I never think to come to this park, and was a little scarred from the first and only other time I visited it. (Let's just say it involved me sitting on a bench, relaxing happily in the shade of a tree, evidently underneath a bird on a branch overhead.) It didn't make for the most romantic Paris memory, but thankfully the bride and groom having a photo shoot in the park were having a better time.
So what finally brought me back to this park some nine months later? The honest answer is the decision was made at Trocadero, where Michael and I ended up taking a few pictures of the Eiffel Tower. Michael's favorite bus line in Paris is the line 30 which goes from there to Montmartre, and stops at Parc Monceau on the way. (The highlight of the ride is going through the notoriously crazy traffic circle around the Arc de Triomphe. Fun fact: Most insurance companies have a specific exclusion that will not cover car accidents that occure here. He actually captured that part of the bus ride in high def - you can experience it here on YouTube.)
When I picture Parc Monceau, this image of columns over the pond instantly come to mind. This is the classic portrait of the park, and captures how it is an English-style garden. Simply put, it means it was created to look natural. (French-styled gardens are formal and clearly show man's control over nature. Think geometric-shaped shrubbery and the like.)
Many English-style gardens have a lake or pond and often feature Greek or Roman "ruins" in the staging of the scene. However you want to analyze it, I say the end result creates a romantic escape in the city...as if that is needed in Paris.
Parc Monceau is not particularly large in comparison to others but that makes it easy to see it in its entirety on a shorter walk. It is a great spot to watch Parisians at play. Join the walkers, joggers, readers, lovers, children, friends, and dogs in the shared green space.
I would seek out this park for a short walk and to sit on a bench people-watching...if you dare (not under a tree). I will never recommend from personal experience where to run, but there are plenty of runners here as well. Warmer months make this a nice location to lounge around and have a leisurely picnic.
What do you like to do in Parc Monceau?
Main entrance: Boulevard de Courcelles, 75008 Paris
Also access via: avenue Vélasquez, avenue Van Dyck, avenue Ruysdael
Open daily; for hours, see connect.paris.fr (in French)