Search for ruins in a romantic park, and discover the grand mansions built on the Monceau plain.
To picnic at the park, stock up among the bakers, delis, and outdoor greengrocers on rue de Lévis (except Monday). Then take blvd. De Courcelles to romantic Parc Monceau, much loved by the small children and nannies of this elegant residential district.
Just inside the main entrance (1) you’ll find a carousel, iron swing-boats, and a kiosk selling sweets; to the left is a lake where you can feed the ducks and to the right, a playground and rollerskating circuit. Dotted around the park are picturesque bits of fake ruins put there by the Duc de Chartres in the 18th century – find the pyramid, a classical colonnade, and a grotto, as well as the largest plane tree in Europe.
There are two good rainy-day museums nearby. Exit on avenue Velasquez to visit the Musée Cernuschi (2, 7 avenue Velasquez) with its collection of chinese art. Bring paper and pencils so children can sketch their favorite among the terracotta camels, dancers, horsemen, and ferocious warriors. At the end of the street, turn right onto blvd Malesherbes, then right onto rue de Monceau. At number 63 is the Musée Nissim de Camondo (3), the mansion of a banker who adored 18th-century furniture, paintings, and porcelain. Children may find the cluttered rooms stuffy, but they will enjoy more homely details such as the kitchen, with its enormous iron range and shiny copper pans, and the servants’ dining room, both of wich give an idea of the upstairs-downstairs lifestyle in the early 20th century.
Metro Station : Monceau (Line 2), Villiers (Line 2, 3)