Located in Paris’s 6th arrondissement, the 55 acre Luxembourg Gardens is home to the French Senate, which is housed in the luxurious Palais du Luxembourg. The garden is comprised of gravel walkways, grassy expanses, and large pools and fountains in which one often finds children sailing model boats (no, that’s not just in the movies!). Parisians come to the gardens in search of peace and invigorating walks through the stunning landscape. Of course, you’ll also find many tourists taking it all in, as well as the occasional guided tour.
The Palais de Luxembourg is located at the northern end of the gardens. It was constructed between the years of 1615 and 1627 (by architect Salomon de Brosse) for Marie de Medicis, the mother of Louis XIII.
Around the octagonal Grand Bassin (large pond) in the middle of the gardens, you’ll find statues of former French reines (queens) in all their glory; this is your chance to snap a picture with the likes of Jeanne III of Navarre, Blanche of Castile, Anne of Austria, Louise of Savoy, or Anne of France. There are many other sculptures throughout the gardens as well, including the first model of the Statue of Liberty, by Frédéric Bartholdi (1870).
As you move toward the southwest corner, you’ll notice a lovely orchard of apple and pear trees, as well as the théâtre des marionnettes (puppet theatre), hugely popular with the petit Parisian set. Equally popular are the spacious enclosed playground and Luxembourg’s famous vintage carousel. Don’t be surprised if you stumble upon a free musical performance at the gazebo. And the nearby café provides the perfect place to enjoy a verre de vin (glass of wine) while listening to live music.
The nearby Musee de Luxembourg is a small venue offering important, traveling exhibits. And the Café Medici next door serves everything from a cup of coffee to a sumptuous lunch.
A visit to Luxembourg Gardens is not complete without stopping by the two famous fountains. The most famous, Fontaine de Medicis, is a baroque fountain designed in 1624; it is located on the northeastern side of the park. The other is Fontaine de l’Observatoire designed by Davioud, Carpaux and Frémiet in 1873. You will most likely recognize this one, as it features the famous statue of a globe supported by four women representing the “major continents.”
The great thing about the Luxembourg Gardens is that you never know who or what you are going to see. As you gaze upon beautiful children in poussettes (strollers), performance artists, a Frenchman jogging by with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, and lovers sharing an ice cream cone, oblivious to the world around them, you have the feeling that anything could happen in this regal Parisian oasis.
Written by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for EuropeUpClose.com