Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to top up your tan, a friendly chess game or a cheeky pony ride, Paris’ splendid Luxembourg Gardens has you covered.
In the heart of Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg sprawls across the city’s 6th Arrondissement. The second largest garden in the city, this park is the official gardens of the Luxembourg Palace and the home of the French Senate.
The history of the Luxembourg Gardens
Borne from the grief of Marie de Medicis’ following the assassination her husband, Henri IV, Luxembourg Gardens were used by Marie as a peaceful escape from the Louvre, the couple’s former home. After purchasing the Petit Luxembourge Palace in 1611, Marie soon began work on a second palace. Crafted to resemble her childhood home in Florence, the Palazzo Pitti was an Italian masterpiece, and Medicis soon sought garden grounds to match. Marie commissioned several gardeners – most notably Tommaso Francini – to design and create a park in her beloved Florentine style. 2,000 elm trees were planted amid several terraces and the striking Medici Fountain was given pride of place in the gardens centre.
When work began in 1611, the gardens were only eight hectares. Then, in 1630, Marie purchased adjoining land and engaged Jacques Boyceau to continue developing the grounds. He laid out a series of squares along an east-west grid that was marked at the east end by the Medici Fountain. He added borders of flowers and hedges in front of the palace, and an octagonal basin with a fountain facing what is now the Paris Observatory.
The garden designer’s visions were complete in the early 1630’s, however the present size of Luxembourg Gardens was only reached in only 1790. This additional land was confiscated from the Carthusian monks by leaders of the French Revolution. Jean Chalgrin, architect of the Arc de Triomphe, carried out restoration work on the derelict gardens. He preserved and incorporated the old vineyards and the formal French style gardens of the monks into the original ground’s design.
The mid to late 1800s was an exciting time in Jardin du Luxembourg, with many statues, sculptures and new boulevards created. The Medici Fountain was rebuilt and moved to its present location and a scale model of the Statue of Liberty, built by Bartholdi, also became a new resident. The garden acquired a marionette theatre, greenhouses, an apiary and an orangerie.
The Gardens today
Jardin du Luxembourg now has hundreds of statues, monuments and fountains and acres of flower beds, trees and shrubs. Although it has changed greatly since the days of grieving Marie de Medici, one element of the Luxembourg Gardens have always remained the same – the serenity. Amid Paris’ turbulent history of world wars and politics, Luxembourg Gardens remained an oasis of calm and a safe space for locals and traveller’s alike.
Admission to Luxembourg Gardens depends on the time of the year.
Opening times: Between 7:30am and 8:15 am.
Closing times: Between 4:45pm and 9:45 pm.