It was hot in Paris and we felt far too lethargic for a city tour. However, we conjured up enough motivation to get up and go for a walk in a park. So we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg.
The Jardin du Luxembourg is a state castle park and is part of the Palais du Luxembourg. It is located in the 6th Arrondissement of Paris.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Maria de’ Medici, the widow of King Heinrich IV., commissioned the design of a new garden for her country chateau in 1611. The original garden was already home to a great variety of trees and also flower beds and water basins were part of the design. During the re-design, the architects focussed on keeping the subtle Italian atmosphere. They created a park in the style of the Boboli Gardens in Florence. The park was enlarged and the already existing horseshoe-shaped ramp was completed with the Avenue de l’Obervatoire which added a formidable perspective. People had an uninterrupted view from here across the Parisian prime meridian all the way to the observatory. The park quickly gained popularity amongst the locals and writers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Denis Diderot went for walks here, too.
The Jardin du Luxembourg measures about 25 hectares. The area is divided by a geometrically laid out forest into a French and an English part. Besides that, there is also a fruit garden where old apple varieties are grown, bee hives and a honey farm and greenhouses for roses and orchids.
The park is also an outdoor gallery. 106 works of art can be found here: examples are the statue of liberty by Bartholdi and a statue of Queen Mary d’Medici. Visitors can have a wander around the monumental Medici-Fountain, the Orangery and the Davioud Pavillion.
A visit to the park
We enter the park through a big and imposing gate and walk towards the Palais du Luxembourg. It is a big, open area and under the few existing trees, we see green metal chairs for the visitors. Unfortunately, the fountain in the big basin is off. The shade we had hoped for is also close to non-existent. On the plus side, everything here is fantastically green, all flowers are in full bloom and I am surprised how quiet it is. Only a few tourists found their way to the park, some runners are taking a break in the shade and older people are having a rest.
We turn left in front of the Palais and walk into the little forest. I spot wonderful areas for kids to play in (a little stage for puppet theatre shows, treks for riding ponies, …). A little to the side are some basketball and tennis courts for the visitors. I also see chess tables and Boule areas, which are almost obligatory in Paris.
We spent close to an hour wandering through the park. We found a little restaurant that tempted us to a coffee in the shade of a parasol. We left the park and walked along the visual axis Avenue de l’Observatoire until we arrived at a charming fountain.
The visual axis that was created all this time ago, is still free today and creates a lovely view all the way across to the Jardin du Luxembourg.