The Luxembourg Gardens

The Luxembourg Gardens (Le Jardin du Luxembourg) is every Parisian’s favourite park in Paris.

It is actually every Parisian’s favourite park in the world.

Walking the alleys of the ‘Luco’ is an enchantment for every Parisian.

The Luxembourg Gardens being a delightfully elegant park, the style and peace of which he can appreciate, when he’s there, the Parisian feels a direct tie with Marie de Médicis. Walking the alleys of the park, the Parisian becomes royalty. People inside of whom the bells of monarchy fail to ring will most likely celebrate silently the great French democracy, embodied by Le Sénat, magnanimous enough a representative body to let the good people of Paris enjoy its private gardens. The Luxembourg Gardens unite monarchists and républicains.

Besides this taste of the greatness of French history he now fully feels a part of, Le Luxembourg is also a journey in his personal story for the Parisian. Many personal memories come to the Parisian’s mind when he enters the park. Memories of the time spent there as a student ditching classes, with a pretty girl he was courting back in the days or simply reading philosophy on his own, seated on one of the benevolent metal chairs. No bad memories can ever be associated to Le Luxembourg. For the Parisian, Le Luxembourg magnifies yesterday. It alters it too. Needless to say, most Parisians did not skip classes and never read philosophy — ever.

Besides these beautiful reminiscences, the Luxembourg Gardens is also a fantastically comforting place for the Parisian.

Outsiders think the Luxembourg Gardens is just a park. But the Luxembourg Gardens is actually a runway. The models of this runway being Parisians. Enchanting a show that is.

Three types of people one may find au Luxembourg. People walking, people jogging and people seated.

Walkers are of two types: Parisians and tourists. Parisians walking in le Luxembourg usually live nearby. They are for most of them from a rich and powerful extraction. Much elegance ensues.

Joggers are incongruous in this environment. They run around the park frenetically. Two types of joggers again: Parisians and expats. Parisians jogging in the Luxembourg Gardens are usually local yuppies trying to turn the Luxembourg Gardens into the Central Park of Paris. People seated are also either Parisians or expats (tourists are too busy for that). They like to pretend they are reading. Truth is, they are sunbathing and people watching. Male seated also fall in love with the mysteriously evanescent Parisian girls walking there.

In the end, the Luxembourg Gardens is a necessary respiration but an absolute continuation of the life and activities of La Rive Gauche.

In that it talks to the mind of the promeneur, le Jardin du Luxembourg epitomizes what Nature really is about in Paris: a fresh and soft stroke on the Parisian’s ego.

Stuff Parisians Like

Useful tip: It is a necessity to know what the current ‘expo photo au Luxembourg’ is about. Always.

Sound like a Parisian: « On va se balader au Luxembourg, j’ai besoin d’être à l’air libre!!»

Want more? Get the full story here…

Coming to Paris soon? Make sure to put O Chateau on your list. Join us for a wine tasting, a nice glass of wine or simply to meet the author of this silly text. It’ll be a pleasure to have you.

40 replies
  1. Jean-Claude
    Jean-Claude says:

    Some further information about the Luxembourg :
    At a corner (near rue de Vaugirard), when the weather is good, there are chess players. They bring their old chessboard and their clock. For me (I’m a chess player) it’s apleasure to see them, and you can trust me, sometimes very good players are here to play “blitz” (very speed games, generally 5 minutes each for all the game)… but also sometimes, some players like to drink a beer during the game.
    The last time I saw them (last summer), one of the players was completely drunk and he was so disturbing the other that he and another began to fight….fortunately the guard arrived to separate them !
    Generally, even if it’s more quiet, I laugh because some players spoke a lot when playing…..the good players called them : “les pousseurs de bois” !
    (wood pushers)

  2. Ruth Yunker
    Ruth Yunker says:

    One of my first times in the Luxembourg Gardens I followed an elderly, still beautiful woman, at a discreet distance of course, to see where she would seat herself. I knew that then I would have been shown the most perfect place to sit. Wuld it be by the main pool, watching the sailboats? Along a balustrade, by pots of flowers and near Valentine de Milan, Marguerite d”Angouleme, Laure de Noves?
    She moved at a careful pace. So careful that I began to feel foolish and to question my own sanity.
    Finally she perked up and moved along briskly.
    And next thing I knew we were seated, she, leaning towards the action eagerly, at the tennis courts, watching tennis players have at it.
    If I closed my eyes I might as well have been back in California!

  3. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Jean-Claude… Drunken chessplayers, that must have been a funny scene! On another note, I also like the fact that there are beehives in the park. It really is a great place.
    Ruth… pretty story that is – French women really are never to be trusted ;-)

  4. JB
    JB says:

    Quant a ‘people seat’… Une fois, j’etais assise sur une des chaises vertes quoique j’ai ete touriste (peut-etre pas trop ‘busy':)) En fait, je mangeais ‘mon dej’ et je regardais les Parisiens.. Dommage qu’il n’y avait aucuns joueurs au petanque la-bas – je vois dans le jardin tres bon espace pour jouer aux boules:) et j’attends l’article sur ca..

  5. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    JB… Ah, il n’y a plus guère que les vieux et quelques bobos qui jouent aux boules à Paris. Les boulistes sont rares au Luxembourg, c’est vrai: trop populaire!
    Jacques… Très vrai – et joliment dit! Merci.

  6. craig
    craig says:

    Do they still have “rental” charges on chairs in the parks in Paris? When I was a student in the early 70s I could not afford such luxuries. On my recent returns, it has been winter and I chose to keep walking in the parks, instead of sitting. I love Luxembourg, but have spent more time walking Père Lachaise. No sailboats in the cemetary, but it has a weird mix of French fatalism and the adoration of statuary.

  7. Accidental Parisian
    Accidental Parisian says:

    Such a beautiful post, for the Parisian is so in touch with nature, so tortured by the city and yearning for air! Only in the wilderness that is the Jardin du Luxembourg is he free. Truly, in reading your description, I am filled with emotion and feel compelled to recite Rimbaud (for I am sensitive and philosophical): J’ai embrasse l’aube d’ete….

    Seriously, your blog is hilarious and I’ve been lurking on it for a while. Delighted to say that I’ve been invited to attend one of your tasting events in a few days, and I can’t wait!

  8. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    La Mom… Well thank you for this award. I very much appreciate it!! I”ll try to live up to it.
    Craig… Nope – no more charges, no more ‘chaisières’ consequently! Some would argue that we already pay enough taxes… As per the Père Lachaise, it surely has a different vibe to it. But I guess fatalism is fair when you’re in a cemetary, don’t you think?!!
    Accidental P… My question is: is your first paragraph du lard ou du cochon? Also, as per the O Chateau tasting you’re invited to, well that’s great! Shoot me an email with the date and I promise I’ll do my best to be presenting it myself.

  9. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    love your blog! very witty :) though, it does make me insecure to go to Paris and be looked on as a gauche beuf or whatever I probably am!! keep up the great posts. thanks!

  10. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Barbara… Thank you very much. And don’t worry: in the right season, Paris is more full with tourists than with Parisians!!
    Marie-Isabelle… I didn’t even know of that one, see! I liked to sailboats as a kid.

  11. Noodle
    Noodle says:

    Everyone enjoying the gardens also has their favorite place to rest. I always have a seat in the same area of the Luco, no matter what.
    There is also this old ride close to the playground. Kids ride a wooden horse and have to try and catch metal rings with a stick on the way round. Mine absolutely adore it!

  12. JB
    JB says:

    ouee.. vraiment domage.. La petanque est pour les vieux mais on est interese a ce jeu avec mon beau frere et mes soeurs depuis pas longtemps.. Cet annee j’ai achete les boules a Paris pour jouer en Pologne (quoique on en a dans les magasins sportifs)- c’est pas si populaire chez nous mais il y a les gens qui s’y interessent..
    Je sais que cette article ne s’agit pas de petanque donc j’attends un petit..quand meme:)
    salutations

  13. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Noodle… I do’nt really have a favorite spot. Depends on my mood, the crowd and the time of day (i.e. where the sun is). As per the ride, yep, agree with your kids: it is the best!!
    JB… Acheter les boules, c’est bien. Mais le Pastis?

  14. JB
    JB says:

    le Pastis? je n’ai pas achete.
    j’ai pris les fromages et une bouteille de vin, j’ai du bien sur les mettre dans ma valise et ca, c’etait le probleme:) mais ca va.. je suis arrivee.
    D’autre chose c’est que generalement je bois pas mais etant en France je goutais et en fait.. j’aime bien juste du vin doux..

  15. craig
    craig says:

    I fell in love with the “idea” of the game of boules on my first couple of visits to Paris. Lazy afternoons in the park seemed like a good concept, especially with wine. I purchased two sets of boules to bring back from Paris and had a few strange looks going through customs in London and Detroit with 6 hefty steel balls and 2 bottles of Cotes du Rhone in 1973. Neither would pass through TAS these days.

  16. AS
    AS says:

    Boules are definitely back as a bobo activity – more for the Canal people than for the Luco people though. My excessively bobo friends (the big job type who refuse to live in wealthy arrondissements) play boules by the Canal Saint Martin all summer, and they are surrounded by clones of themselves, not by old people.

  17. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    JB… Sauternes et Roquefort alors.
    Craig… A pioneer of American pétanque?!! Pleasureto have you here Craig!!
    AS… Agreed. Bobos are annoying. They spoil everything they touch. And they should leave old people alone. It’s their game!!

  18. JB
    JB says:

    Je vois quand meme l’interet a la petanque, c’est bien ca!:)
    Je suis contente de participer dans cette site, j’aime bien decouvrir les choses comme ca, c’est gentil d’avoir recu les reponses et c’est une tres bonne distraction surtout quand je suis pas contente d’autres choses..

  19. Peter
    Peter says:

    It’s definitely worth being a favourite park! … and don’t forget the hundred or more statues – some quite nice! (… including the “original” of the Statue of Liberty.)

  20. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    JB… Ce blog est en train de devenir une véritable amicale bouliste!!
    Peter… True true. I think Parisians notice statues much less than tourists. We are spoiled I guess!

  21. bennie
    bennie says:

    one of my favorite parks in paris, if i can remember is there a little pond where there are little kids playing with there electronic boats/ships????

  22. The Bold Soul
    The Bold Soul says:

    My French husband and I had our first date, and fell in love at first sight, in the Luxembourg. We had our first kiss standing right in front of the Senat (hope we gave the old boys a good show!) and strolled the alleys, stopping periodically to sit on park benches and kiss. We had lunch at one of the outdoor restaus there but I couldn’t tell you what we ate as we didn’t finish our food because we were too busy staring into each other’s eyes. So I think it’s safe to say this is OUR favorite garden in Paris, although for totally different reasons than the ones you’ve mentioned.

  23. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Bennie… hello! Absolument… that’s the one!
    JB… Didn’t know about it. Looks interesting.
    Bold Soul… Quite the story. Very invigorating on a cold winter day! As you say in America… ‘Thanks for sharing’!

  24. mike
    mike says:

    For jogger-mania, do not miss Parc Butte Charmont. C’est horrible!
    Jardin Lux, now that is one of those truly non-disappointing experiences that Paris specialises in. The ones that transcend the cliche. La jardin est super!

  25. Todd
    Todd says:

    The thing I do not yet understand well is the love hate relationship the French seem to have with Italians. My wife is Italian and we are living in Paris for 1 year now. Do the Parisians have a different feeling for Italians then the average Frenchman?

    You mentioned that the Parisian feels a direct tie with Marie de Médicis while in the garden. I believe she was Italian and married a French man. Is this why it is OK for a Parisian to feel close to an Italian?

  26. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Mike… I like the concept of truly non-disapointing experience! Buttes Chaumont is good for thighs!!
    Todd… very good question. I think Parisians are no different from the rest of the French when it comes to Italians. Our countries are somewhat close culturally: we both have grandiose past and humbling present. We care for food, wine and soccer. A fringe of both populations has a sense of fashion and style. The tension between French and Italians stems from rivalry. We stole the Euro 2000 from them. They stole the last World Cup from us. Both countries believe they have the best food and wine in the world. Needless to say that clearly on that one – Italians are mistaken (unless you believe that cooking boils down to using tomatoe, ham, basil and cheese). Secretly, Frenchmen are jealous because Italian men are better lookin than them.
    Now, as per Marie de Médicis, I’d say 75% of French people have no idea she was Italian. Which, technically she was not for Italy was only created in the mid-19th century.
    Voilà – hope this helps!

  27. Lil
    Lil says:

    what i love best is to buy some goodies from pierre herme, bring them with me to jardin du lux, find a seat and enjoy the treats while feasting the beautiful sights in front of me… sharing the treats with friends and loved ones makes this particularly wonderful experience :)

  28. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Lil… that sounds like a lovely idea! Will try that for sure. Maybe today actually – looks liek an amazing day in Paris.

  29. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    Jean-Claude hit it right on the head. I have only been to the Luxembourg Garderns once but I vividly remember the chess players and the atmosphere. On a nice summers day it was very relaxing for me to sit that and watch (I’m a horrible chess player) I need to add it back to my list of places to go again, good post.

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