Though they seem timeless today, public parks are in fact a fairly recent phenomenon in Paris: while the city harbored some squares and jardins royaux (royal gardens) that the general public were allowed to visit, truly public green spaces only appeared in the post-revolutionary era, in the modernizing nineteenth-century. Today, Parisians cherish these green spaces, which often still feel few and far between in a city where trees can be sparse in certain neighborhoods. Tip: try to visit these beautiful parks and gardens in the early morning and late afternoon, before crowds throng on them and take up every available bench or inch of grass.
Pictured here: The Jardin du Luxembourg is Paris' favorite place to sun, stroll, picnic, and play. The gardens and their striking palace were occupied by the Italian monarch Marie de Medicis during the Renaissance, and the elegant formal gardens still bloom each year in majestic fashion. This is a wonderful place for a romantic stroll, and the kids will have plenty to see and do here, too. Even in the winter, these gardens are sure to inspire.
Location: Place Edmond Rostand, 6th arrondissement
Metro: Odeon or Cluny La Sorbonne (Lines 4, 10)
RER: Luxembourg (Line B)
Bus: Lines 27, 38, 82, 83, 85, 89
Nearby Sights and Attractions:
- The Luxemburg Palace and fountain at the heart of the park is a preferred spot for people-watching, sunning, and admiring the blooms. You can't sit on the grass here, but plenty of green metal chairs are available for reading and relaxing. The fountain provides lyrical perspectives of the Palace and surrounding gardens, and children often sail toy boats here. Statues of the royal women of France and Greek mythology surround the central pavilion, so you can take close to an hour admiring their noble figures. The Palace, which was a royal residence and now houses members of the French Senate, can unfortunately only be admired from the outside.
- The Medicis Fountain at the northeast end of the gardens is a stunning Italian-style fountain whose sculpture and greenery leave a lyrical impression.
- The Orangerie at the northwest end of the park houses temporary exhibits. In addition, this end of the park is usually quieter and can be a wonderful spot for relaxing or observing the park's many gorgeous botanical arrangements.
- Kids will enjoy the puppet theater and playground at the park's southwest end. Pony rides may be available depending on the season.
- Tennis courts are located in the garden's central-west sector.
- Paris' oldest public museum, The Musee du Luxembourg, is nestled in a corner of the gardens and has hosted major retrospectives and exhibits on artists such as Modigliani, Matisse and Vlaminck.
NEXT: The Jardin des Tuileries