Parc Montsouris is one of my very favorite green spots in Paris. Located in the residential southern half of the city, an atmosphere rarely gets as relaxing as it does here.
The park provides many grass lawns to picnic on, which is not always allowed in Paris: try to lie down in Jardin du Luxembourg and most likely a man will whistle you to get off within a few minutes. The concept of a French park seems to be foremost aesthetic; the enjoyability for people often seems a secondary matter.
And yet Parc Montsouris is precisely an un-French concept: the park is inspired by English gardens that were in fashion at the era of Napoleon II. As a reaction to the symmetric French gardens, their English counterparts were admired for their natural appearance.
With this fact in mind it is therefore a kind of ironic to know that it was baron Hausmann, responsible for replacing quaint medieval neighborhoods with grand avenues, who appointed the engineer Jean-Charles Alphand to create this green space: a natural garden to me does not really seem to be in line with the impressive but slightly rigid Hausmannian style.
But whatever the strategy, the park is particularly suitable for jogging or a little meditation session while admiring the pond. As it is located far from any touristic area, you will be surrounded by young families and international students, as the international university campus (check the article Cité Universitaire – A park for students) is located just nearby.