My favorite place on earth is the Luxembourg Gardens, or Jardin du Luxembourg, in the heart of Paris. Now, I’ve seen lots of public parks, and I do have fond memories of them – roller-skating (or in my case, roller-crashing) in Golden Gate Park, seeing Central Park’s Alice in Wonderland bronze for the first time, the daffodils popping up in London’s Hyde Park. But for me, the Luxembourg Gardens have a romance, a charm that is incomparable.
I first fell in love with the Jardin du Luxembourg on a trip through Paris while in college. I was struck by the calm, simplicity and beauty of this series of public gardens. And the Jardin is clearly meant to be enjoyed by the public. The design encourages strolling and relaxing, and is considered by locals to be “The most beautiful place of the district to court.” Well doesn’t that sound like bliss?
Its main garden was the origin of this park, and was created in 1617 by Boyeau de La Bareaudière. Opened to the public in 1778, the jardins are the largest public park in Paris, and cover roughly 50 acres in the 6th arrondissement. The French Senate occupies the ornate Luxembourg Palace, which borders and shares the gardens.
Nearby is one of the jardin’s three fountains, the La Fontaine Médicis, commissioned in the 1630s by Marie de Médicis to remind her of the grotto in the Boboli Gardens she enjoyed in her childhood in Florence.
The garden contains just over a hundred statues, monuments, and fountains, scattered throughout the grounds, A particular one of note being a 6 foot one which is a model of the Statue of Liberty.
This is one city park that’s packed with beauty.
One of the most memorable elements of the park are pretty verdigris-colored chairs which are scattered about, and look more like they were placed there for a still life painting than for actual use. But on sunny days it’s hard to find a vacant one.
Paths meander through the grounds and are covered in buff-colored sand, which reflects soft, warm light.
I’ve had the great good fortune of visiting this little slice of heaven in the spring, summer and autumn, and each season highlights different virtues of the park. Spring reveals primroses along paths and buds emerging on trees. The summer sunshine makes the gravel glow golden, and with the autumn, falling leaves dance in the breeze and blanket the paths with an array of colors.
There’s a little café tucked at an edge… it looks more like a house than a café. Why is it that nearly all things Parisian are cute? It’s a perfect place to enjoy a croque-monsieur and a glass of wine, especially if the weather is not conducive to sitting outdoors. (Edit, 2020: The cafe is now updated. Check it out here.)
But sitting outdoors in one of those metal chairs is one of the small joys in life. Watching lovers stroll by, spying artists sketching, nibbling at a freshly baked croissant and taking in the scenery… that’s the charm and the beauty of the Luxembourg Gardens. I do love Paris.
In the heart of the Left Bank (sixth arrondisment), bounded by Rue de Vaugirard, Boulevard St. Michel, Rue Auguste-Comte, and Rue Guynemer, Paris, France. Main gate: 15 rue de Vaugirard 75291 Paris, France.
Open hours for the Luxembourg Gardens depend on the month: opening between 7:30 and 8:15 am; closing at dusk between 4:45 and 9:45 pm.