So much greenery! Immerse yourself in the lush flora of the Montsouris district for a bucolic stroll that will lead you far from Paris (or at least, that’s how you will feel!).
Our adventure beings with a change of scenery amongst the pavilions of the Cité internationale universitaire, continues with the discovery of the astonishing villas that line the Montsouris park and then immersion in its heart, one of Adolphe Alphand’s masterpieces, and culminates at the Cité Florale, a picturesque pastel village where time seems to have stopped...
1 /Paris’ International University City
Our walk begins at the Montsouris district, a world of its very own and home to the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris (Paris’ International University City), a
green and multilingual campus, an exhibition of architecture in the heart of a lush park.
The "Cité U", as the Parisians call it, is a utopia. Comprised of about forty houses, 52 nationalities and almost as many typical architectures, Cité U is above all a journey to the four corners of the world without ever leaving Paris, and offers a bucolic and gentle stroll.
New homes are planned by 2025. South Korea and Egypt will soon have theirs, and the second Tunisian pavilion will open its doors. New discoveries in the pipeline!
Did you know? The three oaks planted on the ground in front of the Argentine Foundation represent three men who have actively worked for the development of the Cité internationale: André Honnorat, Jean Branet and David David-Weill.
Cité internationale universitaire de Paris - 17 boulevard Jourdan, Paris 14th
More info on the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris
La Maison du Cambodge (House of Cambodia)
After the radicality of Le Corbusier's works, the Maison du Cambodge takes us on a journey and enchants us.
Created in the 1950s by architect René Audoul, this House welcomes visitors with statues representing Hanuman, the monkey god who traditionally watches over the properties. All around, references to Asia and Khmer architecture sweep us off to foreign destinations.
La Fondation suisse (Swiss Foundation)
A place of thought, a place of life, a melting pot of philosophical exchanges and an architectural archetype: the Swiss Foundation designed by the great architect Le Corbusier is all three!
Noble and radically austere, the Swiss Foundation catches one’s attention. It embodies the "living machine," or the ideal and standardized living space, which is at the heart of Le Corbusier's work. so it’s not surprising to be mesmerized.
La Maison du Brésil (House of Brazil)
Only in Paris can you walk from Switzerland to Brazil! Continue your walk, enjoy the calm, the birds and look up: you’ll find yourself in Latin America.
The Maison du Brésil was designed by the Brazilian architect Lucio Costa, but also bears the mark of Le Corbusier. L'Atelier Le Corbusier carried out the project.
The Dutch College
Has the bucolic calm of the Cité internationale won you over? Perfect! Here you are in front of the Dutch College - the masterpiece of Cité U. The Dutch College was designed by the Dutch architect Willem Marinus Dudok, one of the most prominent architects of the Dutch school between the two world wars. This building is the only example of his work in France.
Ultra geometric and refined, the Dutch College - with its orthogonal form and decorative simplicity - is a major testiment to the modernist architectural trend of the 1920s.
Did you know? The corner tower evokes the medieval belfries of the cities in the Northern Netherlands.
Deutsch de la Meurthe Foundation
Believe it or not, you’re not in Oxford, but in the 14th arrondissement of Paris! Straight in ahead is the Deutsch de la Meurthe Foundation, the very first house in Cité U. Patrons Emile and Louise Deutsch of Meurthe financed 7 pavilions of the Cité internationale. The very first one embodies the classical campus, which is part of our collective imaginations. Built in 1923 by the architect Lucien Bechmann, the Deutsch de la Meurthe Foundation was added to the Supplementary Inventory of Historic Monuments in 1998. No big deal.
Time for a break: Take a walk at the Café du Théâtre, hidden in the heart of the city for a homemade, organic coffee or hot meal. Vegetarians are welcome!
2 / The Montsouris Park
At long last, it’s time to enter the Montsouris Park! Enter the park via Avenue de la Tunisie, from the entrance located on rue Emile Deutsch de la Meurthe.
Did you know? Avenue de la Tunisie is named as such because it led to the Bardo Palace, a Tunisian pavilion built for the 1867 Universal Exhibition. The pavilion burned in 1991 but can be seen in the old photos of Montsouris Park.
Take the shaded lane for a few metres and stop. Here you are in the heart of an English-style park, full of groves, nooks and crannies, wild grasses and tall trees.
If you continue along the Avenue de la Tunisie, you will cross the Mire de Paris. It marks the passage of the Paris meridian... well, more or less, because it has been moved and offset by about 70 meters following park redevelopment work.
The Montsouris Park is one of the most beautiful creations of Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand, the Ponts et Chaussées engineer who was the "inventor of the Parisian landscape" as the newspaper Le Monde styled him in November 2017 during the celebration of the bicentenary of his birth. Alphand was responsible for the department of walks and plantations under Emperor Napoleon III, developped the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes, the Monceau Park and the Champs-Élysées gardens, but also created the Buttes-Chaumont, not less than 80 squares and, of course, the Montsouris Park.
Alphand’s style was inspired by English style park, full of curves and groves. It is nature groomed and tailored by man, as witnessed by the cliffs, rocks and concrete branches that guide the hand or hide a railway track (the “Little belt railroad”, an abandoned Parisian circle trainline, crosses the Montsouris park, as well as the RER B).
Time for a break: Looking for a little snack? A pancake and waffle seller is hiding nearby. Do you want to know all the secrets of Parc Montsouris? Why not book a fun and enlightened walk with Explore Paris?
Parc Montsouris - 2 rue Gazan, Paris 14th
More info on the Montsouris Park
3 / The Villa Guggenbühl
Just next to Montsouris Square, on the way to the park, take a break in front of the spectacular villa Guggenbühl.
Built for the Zurich painter Walter Guggenbühl in 1927 by André Lurçat, the prolific architect and developer of the villa Seurat, this is listed in the French Supplementary List of Historic Monuments.
Villa Guggenbühl - 14 rue Nansouty, Paris 14th
4 / Square de Montsouris
Did you like Villa Seurat? You will love Montsouris Square!
Welcome to the paradise of wild grasses, virgin vines, small cobbled streets and architectural eclecticism. Welcome to a 207-metre residential driveway lined with houses built around the 1920s, adorable, charming and reminiscent of film houses. Welcome to the square de Montsouris (which is a street, therefore, not a square).
62 houses line the Square Montsouris, 28 of which (in red bricks or ochre) were originally built for low-income households. The rest is made up of artists' studios and bucolic villas with surprising styles, between Art Nouveau and Art Deco.
Pay attention to the following houses:
- number 2: Initially entrusted to Le Corbusier, the Maison Gaut was designed by the Perret brothers - Auguste, Gustave and Claude. Auguste is perhaps the most well known. After World War II. HE entirely rebuilt the city centre of Le Havre, which had been destroyed. The Maison Gaut, built with his brothers, is a fine example of the modern movement and the early use of reinforced concrete.
- number 28: admire the pretty sundial, it was painted in 1900.
- numbers 6 & 40: architect Gilles Buisson built 2 houses in Montsouris Square. Number 6 and, further on, his own home, at number 40. You will be fascinated by this strange house that mixes half-timbering and stained glass.
- number 42: take a look at the house next door, the 42, signed J. Déchelette, it seduces with its pure angles highlighted in blue.
Square Montsouris - The street starts at 8-12 rue Nansouty and ends at 51 avenue de Reille / Métro ligne 4 Porte d'Orléans, RER B Cité Universitaire, Tramway T3 Montsouris
La Maison Ozenfant (Villa Reille)
You are in front of one of Le Corbusier's first major achievements. It is estimated that the painter Amédée Ozenfant was one of the first clients of the legendary architect who would revolutionize modern architecture. Welcome to Villa Reille, known as "Maison Ozenfant”. Characterized by its huge glass roofs, white facades and a refined structure, the Maison Ozenfant represents the pure Le Corbusier style. It also marks one of the ends of Montsouris Square (don't confuse it with the park) where we take you right after!
Did you know? The roof, once made of factory “sheds”, has been changed to a flat roof that acts as a balcony. Not a bad idea, given it receives lots of light. Otherwise, nothing else has been modified on the outside of the house.
Maison Ozenfan - 53 avenue Reille, Paris 14th
6 / The villa Seurat
Named in homage of the painter Georges Seurat, this private road was built at the beginning of the 20th century for the penniless artists of Montparnasse, the Montparnos (discover our walk "Montparnasse and its artists").
In the villa Seurat, the architect André Lurçat built 8 sister villas, which were then custom designed or almost, for artists in need of workshops. From Chaïm Soutine to Salvador Dali, from Henry Miller to André Derain, many painters and writers have unpacked their suitcases at Villa Seurat to enjoy the bucolic calm conducive to creation.
- number 1: at the corner of rue de La Tombe-Issoire, you’re facing the double house of the writer Frank Townshend. A double house in the literal sense: it’s really two houses with each their own kitchen, bathroom, workshop, living room and bedroom.
- number 4: this L-shaped house, owned by brothers André Lurçat, the painter, ceramist and upholsterer Jean Lurçat, was the first building built in the villa.
- number 7bis: this house is a surprise, so different from the others. And for good reason! It was built by Auguste Perret (and not André Lurçat) for the Ukrainian sculptor Chana Orloff who had her studio there. Today, it can be visited every Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon, on reservation. You can also admire one of Orloff’s statues, Mon Fils Marin, inaugurated for the artist's 100th birthday in 2018 on the Place des Droits de l'Enfant at the intersection of Alésia-Tombe Issoire and Sarrette streets.
- number 18: it was in this brick house that the American writer Henry Miller wrote his famous "Tropic of Cancer". Anaïs Nin, Soutine and Antonin Artaud also stayed there.
Did you know? Before being subdivided, the land that gave rise to the Villa Seurat was occupied by sheds and... stables!
Villa Seurat, Paris 14th
More info on Montparnasse and its artists
7 / Cité Florale (Floral City)
Villa Seurat, a pretty open-air architecture museum? Check. Montsouris Square and its modernist villas/workshops? Check. What about the Floral City? Let’s go!
Originally, the floral city was just a marshy land near the Bièvre, a now underground river south of Paris, behind Rungis Square. Swamps meant that architects had to craft buildings light enough not to sink. And in 1928 a handful of small pastel-coloured workers' houses appeared out of the ground, flanked by their gardens, sprinkled along the street with bucolic flowery names. Rue des Orchidées (Orchids street), rue des Liserons (Bindweed), rue des Iris (Irises), rue des Glycines (Wisteria), rue des Volubilis and Mimosa square: it's not a district, it's a romantic bouquet!
Don't forget that these adorable houses are inhabited, make sure you respect the peace and quiet of the residents when you visit the neighbourhood.
Floral city - access by Brillat-Savarin and Auguste-Lançon streets, Paris 13th
More info on the Floral City
Do you want to continue your visit to a Paris where time seems to have stopped? Complete with small houses and village atmosphere? Why not discover the nearby Butte aux Cailles? We promise, you'll love it.
Discover our walk!