parc montsouris, paris park city guide

Parc Montsouris Park, Paris

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paris tram t3, montsouris, paris

It was a Saturday afternoon, warm enough for a t-shirt but for the most part the sun shone so dimly through the grease-proof paper sky that you could stare at it without fear of retinal damage. We strolled down to the Seine and walked alongside the river, dodging splatterings of dog’s mess and rubbish. Eventually we came up to line T3, a relatively new tramline introduced in 2006, Paris had been tram free for the previous sixty odd years.

parc montsouris parisSat at the front, I had a panoramic view through the driver’s glass control panel, to the envy of a small French boy sat behind me. He insisted on banging me with his elbow and talking persistently down my ear as he stood backwards on his seat with his head alongside mine, all to the indifference of his mother. A few stops down a man whose hygiene code prohibited, washing under the armpits (followed by a splash of deodorant), made an almighty affront on the senses. Caught in a sandwich of sensory assaults I was glad to escape from what would otherwise have been a very pleasant and comfortable mode of travel. Should you happen to take the tram in better circumstances, you can stop either at Montsouris, or Cité Universitaire (I stopped at the latter). There is another main entrance from the other side of the park reachable by bus, but whether you come in from Avenue Reille or Boulevard Jourdain, you will not have any problems. Montsouris Park is located in the 14th arrondissement, next to the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, so expect to see a few students about. If you are wondering whether the French word ‘souris’ (mouse) has any relevance to the naming of the park, there is a connection! The area was originally named ‘Morque Souris’ because of the problems with rodents in the area. It may please you to know, I didn’t see a single rodent during my afternoon.

parc montsourismontsouris trainUsing the park entrance opposite the University, I had the distinct impression to be in the entrance of the Buttes Chaumont Park, mainly due to the winding paths, changes in altitude and the concrete wood effect used on the railings and steps. This impression soon changed though as Montsouris began to take on individual characteristics of its own, with a few more English proclivities than other Parisian parks.  

One of the first things to notice is a working railway line running out through the park, followed by an old abandoned line a few metres further along. The abandoned line was completed in 1869 and was very popular until 1927 when the subway opened offering fierce competition.

After navigating a series of relatively steep paths, the park opens up to greener pastures, with sixteen hectares to roam about in including an artificial lake which consumes almost one hectare. Crossing over the stepping stones and small waterfall feature, I came up to the large lake where many people lay out upon the sloping grass banks. There were lovers picnicking, drinking wine; practicing jugglers; students listening to Jeff Buckley; many people reading and more again soaking up the sporadic sun. The island in the middle attracts migratory birds with many species viewable throughout times of the year. In the north east of the park, a historical entrance to the Paris catacombs remains covered, although you will find the official tourist entrance not too far away outside of the park.

parc montsouris

montsouris scultpuresThere are a number of sculptures to find, often depicting mythological nudes, sculpted by a multitude of artists, from 1880-1960. My favourite was by Georges Gardet, called ‘Drama in the Desert’, but it was the source of attention for children and families and so I’m afraid I am without photo. The park also boasts some 150 species of trees and shrubs, some exotic and quite rare, although I could probably only name a dozen of the most common at best.

pony trek, parisThere are pony treks for children around the lake, following the sweeping water edged trees, and waterfowl. Signs of the city lay all around as a constant reminder that you are still firmly placed in Paris. Walking away from the lake towards the other side of the park lies a big field with large shady trees. If you can avoid the ball games, frisbee throwers and practicing jugglers, it’s a nice spot to lay down a blanket and relax. I felt a little uncomfortable when a young boy came over wanting to play ball, but I frequently see children talking with adults in France, responding politely. The attitude in the UK has changed a great deal in the past decade, largely due to the media and its scare-mongering to the point that even if we see a lost child crying, or one with a cut knee we’re filled with a terrible quandary on how to approach.

Whilst you may not escape the crowds at Montsouris Park (especially on a warm weekend), this is a good retreat for nature lovers or simply to unwind after a day or two of navigating harsh stone pavements.

paris park, montsouris



Montsouris Park, Address

parc montsouris, parisAddress
Boulevard Jourdan
Avenue Reille


At Avenue Reille and Boulevard Jourdain.

Cité Universitaire (Line B)

Line 21, 67, 88

T3 (Parc Montsouris)



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