Parc Monceau is a public park situated in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris, France. Its history goes back to the 17th century and it has seen numerous transformations over the centuries.

In the 17th century, the land where Parc Monceau now sits was initially used for hunting and later, as farmland. In 1769, the Duke of Chartres, who would later become the Duke of Orleans, bought the land and hired Louis Carrogis Carmontelle to design a “folly garden” – a style of garden popular in the 18th century that incorporated extravagant and exotic elements.

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Carmontelle filled the park with fantastical attractions, including a Roman temple, a Dutch windmill, a minaret, an Egyptian pyramid, a Chinese pagoda, a farmhouse, a lighthouse, and the so-called ‘naumachie’ – a mock Roman amphitheater. The park was unique in that it was not designed with the geometric precision common to French formal gardens but in a more English style, emphasizing the beauty of nature.

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In 1778, the park was opened to the public for the first time. It quickly became a popular spot for Parisians and was the venue for large parties, including the first-ever balloon ascent with a human passenger, François Pilâtre de Rozier, in 1783.

The park was nationalized during the French Revolution. In the early 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte decreed the construction of the Rue de Monceau, which cut through the park. Some of the park’s original structures were destroyed in the process.

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In 1860, Baron Haussmann, the Prefect of the Seine under Napoleon III, was given the task of modernizing Paris. As part of his redesign of the city, Haussmann hired landscape architect Jean-Charles Alphand to remake Parc Monceau. Alphand kept the informal layout and some of the original architectural features, like the naumachie and the pyramid, but added new elements including a large lawn and a circular path.

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Today, Parc Monceau is a beloved public space that offers a peaceful respite from the busy city. Its features include children’s play areas, walking paths, and statues of famous French figures. The park is also surrounded by magnificent mansions and is home to several notable buildings, including the Musée Cernuschi and the Musée Nissim de Camondo. It continues to hold an important place in the cultural life of the city.

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