The Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris is one of the most popular public parks in the city, for locals and tourists alike. With its 55 acres of gardens and quiet, tree-lined walking paths, the Jardin du Luxembourg is a beautiful place to visit all throughout the year. When we visited in late October, bright yellow and gold chrysanthemums accentuated the changing colors of the trees, and many of the park’s gardens remained in bloom despite the chilly autumn weather.
Dominating the center of the park is Luxembourg Palace, built as a royal residence for Marie de Médici, the widow of King Henry IV, in 1625. Since then the palace has served as a museum (the forerunner to the Louvre), a prison, the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, and today, the meeting place for the French Senate.
Just in front of the palace is the Grand Basin, a large octagonal pond where children can rent model boats and sail them on the water. A large amount of seats surround the pond where, at least on the day we visited, people were enjoying a snack while watching their children play and others had propped their feet up and were engrossed in their books and newspapers. Two elderly men were playing what appeared to be a very intense game of chess.
It is scenes like this that prompt me to visit a local park in every city we visit. There were plenty of tourists here, I’m sure, but everyone was acting like a local. While I’m sure my camera gave me away, I was happy to pretend to be one for a few moments, too.
The landscape of the Jardin du Luxembourg is adorned with over a hundred statues and monuments representing prominent French politicians, artists, saints, queens, and mythological creatures among many others. A visit here will give you information on each of the monuments found in the park.
We sat for over an hour by the pond, watching the children play and soaking up the last rays of sunlight as the day came to a close. As soon as the sun set, the weather turned chilly and we began to make our way out of the park, passing the beautiful grotto, Fontaine Médicis, on our way out. The fountain (pictured below) depicts Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon, looking down on Galatea, his beloved sea-nymph, in the arms of Acis, her true love. As the story goes, enraged that Galatea did not return his love, Polyphemus killed Acis with a boulder and Galatea turned her lover’s blood into the River Acis in Sicily.
The Jardin du Luxembourg is such a beautiful park that it comes with no surprise that Victor Hugo chose this place as the spot for his characters, Marius Pontmercy and Cosette, to meet and begin their love story in his novel, Les Misérables.
Located close to the Latin Quarter, the Jardin du Luxembourg is easy to find and has multiple entrances. The gardens are open daily and entrance is free. Throughout the year, various exhibitions are held here, as well as puppet shows and outdoor concerts in the summer. If you need an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city, I’m positive you’ll find it here.
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