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A walk through the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris

By Staff | Oct 16, 2009

A handsome, tall, decorative cast iron fence encloses the Luxembourg Gardens, which is owned by the French Senate. The Senate generously allows the public to use the park, and the Senate makes the rules for the use of the park and determines opening and closing hours.

We enter one of the main entrances to the park. The cast iron gates are tall, and they welcome us to a world of mature trees and meticulous gardens.

The park is heavily used by all kinds of people. There are plenty of places for children to play, and there is a world-famous marionette theatre in the park. An old woman staffs a kiosque where children’s toys can be purchased. A young woman gives children rides on ponies.

There is an area where people play chess. Sometimes, when a particularly interesting chess game is being played, a small crowd gathers around to watch.

There are tennis courts. A basketball court. Men (mostly) playing boules.

Two charming indoor and outdoor cafs serve the park, one on each side.

The Orangerie for the Luxembourg usually hosts temporary art and photography exhibitions. In July, we saw a show called “Le Pont Bride, the photos of Galata,” and in September, the photography of Albert Monier.

The middle of the park is a long, formal garden with improbably perfect flowers and a formal round pool with a fountain at the northern end of it. The ducks who live in the pool have a little shelter house. A nearby vendor rents toy sailboats for children to put into the pool.

The sides of the park are wooded with old trees. They are also graced by statues of all the former queens of France.

The wooded areas open up, here and there, into sunny grassy spots where lovely old stone and bronze sculptures are on display in the midst of well-kept flowerbeds.

At the southwestern end of the park is a little brick building and fenced-in area where beehives are kept. The bees service an orchard, just to the south, in the end of the park. The public is not allowed to go into the fenced area where the fruit trees are; the individual fruits on the trees are protected by little bags, so bugs and birds cannot eat them. These fruits are to be eaten instead by the Senators, in their dining rooms in the Luxembourg Palace, which overlooks everything.

South of the park is a massive high school, called the Lyce Montaigne. When school is in session, the kids pour into the southeastern entrance to the park at every opportunity lunchtime, after school, while skipping school, you name it. There is usually one section of grassy lawn marked with signs saying it is okay to be on the grass. Otherwise, the lawns are forbidden in this park. The high school kids love to lounge on the permitted grass.

Off the southeast corner of the park is an area with greenhouses. These are not open to the public, except for special times, like Heritage Days in September.

The exit from the east side of the park leads directly to the Panthon, a few blocks uphill, where great people have been interred.

The northeast corner of the park holds the Medici fountain, a peaceful place to sit and watch ducks being fed or to watch water fall into the pool.

The Luxembourg Gardens is my peaceful retreat when we come to the final weeks of our summer in Paris. I sit by the Medici fountain and daydream about returning to the wetland of Sanibel.