• LOCATION 15 | Highlights Around Parc Montsouris: From Hidden Water to Secret Villages

    Parc Montsouris

    Parc Montsouris on Paris audio tour Highlights Around Parc Montsouris: From Hidden Water to Secret Villages

    We will keep walking all the way down the street, keeping the park fence to your right. Depending on the time, you may see children playing, riding ponies, or people picnicking. And even if you can't see them. I'll make sure you hear some from the spirit of Paris.

    Napoleon III was not only jealous of my immortality, but he was also very jealous of London’s parks. In the late 1860s, he asked Préfet Haussmann, in charge of Paris’ transformation, to adapt the concept to Paris. While Belgrand was put in charge of the underground infrastructure, Jean-Charles Alphand was put in charge of the above-ground infrastructure, and led the creation of new parks that still exist today, like Buttes-Chaumont, Bois de Vincennes, Bois de Boulogne, and Montsouris.

    The name “Montsouris” has many origins, some say “mont” is for “mount”, and we are indeed walking downhill, and “souris” means mouse. The hill here was full of holes directly leading to stone quarries, that some people say were full of mice. But the hill also had windmills to make flour, so some say the name comes from the grain that attracted the mice. Others say the name actually comes from "moque-souris", “mice mocker”, either because the neighborhood was so poor -or the millers were so stingy- that they did not leave a single grain for the mice.

    But my favourite explanation for “moque-souris” goes back to the stone quarries we are currently walking on. The Montsouris windmills were not actually used to crush grains, but to cut the quarry’s stones, thereby mocking the mice who would enter the windmills looking for grain. To be honest, I don’t remember if the windmills were only for stones, and I didn't live here until after the French Revolution.

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Highlights Around Parc Montsouris: From Hidden Water to Secret Villages