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.
It's only the second post of this series and already the title is a slight misnomer. Today's featured park is located just over the border in the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. But I say close enough - after all, you can still get to the park via the metro (line 10).
A friend mentioned that he read about a park in Paris that featured an abandoned Rothschild mansion on its grounds (check out the article on blog Messy Nessy Chic.) A ghost of the presence of the Rothschild family intrigued me and I had to head out to explore last weekend.
Entering the park, it did not take long before I spotted the château Edmond de Rothschild had inherited. It certainly wasn't a sight I would expect to see, a rotting estate of one of Europe's most wealthy and powerful families. I can only imagine the extravagance that this place must have seen during its days in La Belle Époque, parties of Great Gatsby grandeur and class.
Now it looms on the outskirts of this park, a shell of what once was. The family left the château at the beginning of World War II, and the Nazis seized and plundered it. American forces took it over after the liberation of France, and then it was given back to the Rothschild family though they never returned. The town of Boulogne-Billancourt sold the estate in 1979 to a Saudi Arabian. However nothing has been done by the current owner to improve its decrepit state.
The château sits on the edge of the park in front of an expansive lawn. A little further is a pretty Japanese-style garden worth exploring, as well as a small lake.
No one is allowed inside the building, although you can take a peek inside through the photos on Messy Nessy Chic of the graffiti-covered interior. Edmond de Rothschild once bequeathed the Louvre a gift including over a hundred engravings and paintings by Rembrandt - I cannot fathom the monetary value of such a gift. I can only begin to imagine the vibrancy and splendor of the past life of the estate, and where all those treasures inside ended up after the war.
I guess it's just part of life for Europeans to be surrounded by historical sites. Normal to play a game of soccer in the shadow of such a building. But I find it so interesting!
Come to this park if you are curious like I was to see the outside of this building. (Others have jumped over the fence to explore but I'm not daring or coordinated enough to trespass.) Otherwise it has lots of open space for a picnic or for those with kids or pets, letting them run around. And should you need more to explore and do, the expansive Bois de Boulogne is close-by.
3, rue des Victoires
92100 Boulogne Billancourt