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Balloon-seller, Parc Montsouris - Framed Picture - 11x14


Parc Montsouris is a public park at the southern edge of Paris.

Opened in 1869, Parc Montsouris is one of the four large urban public parks, along with the Bois de Boulogne, the Bois de Vincennes and the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, created by Emperor Napoleon III and his Prefect of the Seine, Baron Haussmann, at each of the cardinal points of the compass around the city, in order to provide green space and recreation.

The park is 15.5 hectares in area, and is designed as an English landscape garden.

The name of the park came from an old windmill, called the Moulin de Moque-Souris. Moque-Souris ("mocks-the-mice") was a common name for windmills in France at the time; it was a facetious name, suggesting that the miller dared the mice to find any grain inside. The name over time changed from moque-souris to montsouris.

The park was built by Jean-Charles Alphand, the engineer who headed the service of promenades and plantations created by Baron Haussmann, with the assistance of city architect Gabriel Davioud and horticulturist Jean-Pierre Barillet-Deschamps. This was the team which together made the Bois de Boulogne, the Bois de Vincennes, and the other great landscape parks of the Second Empire.

Unlike the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, the site for the future park did not have any trees or other vegetation. It was largely occupied by a large stone quarry, and to make the work more complicated, it was above a network of tunnels of abandoned mines, which were filled with human skeletons. These tunnels were part of the ossuary of Paris, popularly known as the catacombs of Paris, where the remains of some six million Parisians had been moved at the end of the 18th century. Before construction of the park could begin, some eight hundred skeletons were removed from the tunnels.

During the 1871 Paris Commune, the park was the site of a military encampment, and witnessed fighting between the army and the Communards.

In October 1897, the park was the setting of secret meetings between some of the figures involved in the Dreyfus Affair, including Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy and Max von Schwartzkoppen.

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