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Why the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg was such an unexpected find

by Silke Elzner

A beautiful summer’s day, warm temperatures, and we are in the middle of Paris. It’s been a busy day, sightseeing, exploring, doing the touristy things. We crave for a peaceful place for some rest and relaxation, but where to go, where to go? We consult our travel guide book and a green spot on the map looks promising: The Jardin du Luxembourg, not far from where we are already stranded. So we eventually find our way to this beautiful, ancient park which greets us with cool shadows and inviting chairs.

In fact, chairs can be found everywhere, such a brilliant change from static park benches which cannot be moved around. But these chairs are flexible, you can sit apart from the crowd or in a group, you can decide on your views, hell, you can even rest your tired city explorer feet on them.

The Jardin du Luxembourg turns out to be a stunningly beautiful park, and more.

There’s the grand palace building in its focal point, of course. The Luxembourg Palace is now home of the French Senate, but when it was first build in 1611 it was an attempt by the French king’s widow Marie de’ Medici to transport her Italian roots to her French place of residence – the palace is a copy of the Pitti Palace in Florence. It’s a bit of a shame that the palace is today a government building and cannot be visited by the public; I am sure the rooms would be wonderful to see, even after all this time.

The Luxembourg Garden is a formal garden, with straight lines, coordinated flower beds, visual axes and carefully manicured lawns. Personally, I find formal gardens utterly relaxing yet invigorating. Since so much thought went into the design of a formal garden you are bound to experience new attractive sights with every turn. The orderliness and symmetry offers peace and tranquillity. Colourful flowers are everywhere, and had we come to see the garden a little bit later in summer I am sure we would have enjoyed the fireworks of oleander flowers in the oversized flower pots that can be found everywhere around the park.

Sailing boats in the pool in front of the palace

In front of the palace is a big circular pool. Water is one of my favourite features in a garden – it is such a sensual thing! On a hot day like today it adds just the right sense of refreshment to our experience. Coming closer we even notice that there are fish in the water, which doesn’t worry the little children who sail their little boats in the pool. They use long sticks to navigate the colourful miniature vessels, the sight of them having so much fun with these non-motorised little boats is almost anachronistic.

Another feature we love in the garden are the statues of females that surround the pool in a wide arch. These females are French Queens and illustrious women. Their pose is royal, their facial features lovely. We wander from statue to statue and admire their beauty. Curiously, one of them has been almost completely encased in black rubber – an unexpected piece of modern art.

Modern art around this female statue

Lastly, we pass by one of the oldest features of the garden, the Medici Fountain which was also commissioned by Marie de’ Medici, a classic grotto design with French statues of a mythological scene. It’s a shady, cooler area of the garden, and many visitors relax here under the trees with a novel or their sketch books on their laps.

There is of course more to see and to do in the garden, but we have to return to our hotel to catch our night train to Venice – but that’s another story altogether. Or let’s put it this way: that’s an adventure we didn’t really ask for.

Geraniums gracing this giant basin pot

A French Queen in the Luxembourg Garden

A statue in front of the palace

Parisians enjoying summer in the Jardin du Luxembourg

Flower pot

Colourful flower beds in this formal garden