April 27, 2015
The city of Paris boasts more than 421 parks and gardens. One can hardly walk a block without stumbling across an exquisite park or garden tucked away under ancient trees and surrounded by elegant iron fences. As Spring begins to bring life to the slumbering trees and grass and flowers, more and more people flock to these gardens for picnics, to read or just soak in the sun. One of our favorites by far is the Jardin du Luxembourg. Started in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici to accompany her new home, the Luxembourg Palace, it covers 23 hectares and includes massive lawns, ponds, fountains, tennis courts and over one hundred statues. The Palace is now home the the French Senate, but the gardens belong to the people. Long and beautifully kept swaths of grass are packed shoulder to shoulder with Parisians enjoying their lunch, taking a break from the day or spending time with family and friends. To maintain the health of these beautiful lawns, the grounds keepers alternate which ones can be used to give each and opportunity to ‘repos’.
Front and center is a massive pool with a small fountain in the middle. A sailboat vendor rents out small sailboats flying flags from countries around the globe. Small children (and many adults) clamour to get their boat of choice. I asked the vendor what type of motor it has. He said ‘none’. I then asked what kind of rudder it had. Again ‘none’. I finally asked ‘What happens if it gets stuck in the center of the pool?’. He replied ‘wait for the wind.’ The French are so pragmatic. It is easy to get lost in time watching the boats on the water, the flowers in the breeze and the people enjoying such a remarkable place of beauty.
Any trip to Paris should have at the top of its list a visit to the Jardin du Luxembourg. There are vendors and cafes all around that specialize in providing meals that can be brought to the jardins and enjoyed in its magical environs.