Jardin des Tuileries is the oldest public park in Paris. It is also simply the most visited park due to its strategic location, just right in between two famous tourist attractions of Paris, Place de la Concorde and Le Louvre. Located in the first arrondissement, the park is people’s favorite for having a celebration, casual meeting, or just relaxing.
History of Jardin des Tuileries
Before it became a park, the area where Jardin des Tuileries is located now was full of people whose profession was making tiles for roofs and buildings. This is also the main reason why the park is today called Jardin des Tuileries. The place then turned into a garden upon a request by Queen Catherine de Medicis after her husband, King Henri II, passed away in 1559. The area was chosen because it was near to the Louvre, her new choice of residence after her husband’s death.
The garden was designed to resemble an Italian garden, especially those which were located in Florence, Queen Catherine’s hometown. To carry out the job, she hired an architect from Florence, Bernard de Carnesse. The new garden’s plan included grottos, fountains, labyrinths, and ceramic sculptures of plants and animals. For the last decoration part, Queen Catherine especially ordered an artist named Bernard Palissy to learn the secret of Chinese porcelain.
The garden was arranged on a 150 km2 piece of land. Decorated with beautiful lawns, flower beds, tree clusters and vineyards, Jardin des Tuileries was often used by Queen Catherine to honor ambassador guests such as Queen Elizabeth I in a lavish party. She also used the garden as the venue to hold her daughter’s marriage, Marguerite de Valois, to future King Henry IV.
Jardin des Tuileries during French Revolution
When French Revolution broke out in 1789, the garden served as a place where King Louis XVI was detained. He was brought to the Tuileries Palace which was located in the garden area together with his queen, Marie Antoinette, and let them used the area for their private use. As the result, the garden was closed to public. One historical and bloody event recorded in Jardin des Tuileries was when the King’s Swiss guards were chased and massacred while protecting the king.
After the revolution finished and France became a republic, the garden was turn into National Garden and was open to public again.
Jardin des Tuileries Today
Jardin des Tuileries underwent a renovation in 1990. There was not much changed done during the renovation and most of the formal design of the garden was kept intact. Modern sculptures were added to enhance its appearance. A footbridge linking the garden with Musee d’Orsay was also added in 1999.
Today, Jardin des Tuileries is full with entertainments and attractions. In total, it features two large basins, several fountains, numerous sculptures, and houses two museums (the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume and the Musée de l’Orangerie) and one palace (Palais de Tuileries). Inside, there are also a bookstore, a pavilion that exhibits artworks, and two cafés where visitors can buy sandwiches, salads, snacks, and drinks.
The garden also has several famous sites such as Jardin du Carrousel, the moat of Charles V, the Grand Carré, and the Grand Couvert.
Jardin du Carroussel
In Jardin du Carrousel, visitors can see Arc de triomphe du Carrousel which was built by Jean Joseph Espercieux to celebrate Napoleon’s victories. Therefore, this area of the garden was also used as a parade ground for cavalry for that matter. The garden was then rearranged in 1995 with addition of 21 statues made by Aristide Maillol.
The Moat of Charles V
There are two descending stairways inside Jardin des Tuileries which were named Charles V of France. The moat was an original fortification left surrounding the palace. We can still see some marks left by Henry IV’s siege attempt in 1590 during French Wars of Religion. Some statues have been placed since 1994 to decorate the moat.
The Grand Carré
Grand carré is literally translated into “large square.” Its location is in the eastern part of Jardin des Tuileries. The eastern part if Grand Carre was used to be the private garden of King Louis Philippe and Napoleon III.
The Grand Couvert
Grand Couvert is a part of Jardin des Tuileries which is covered with trees. It is the best location to relax and enjoy the view during a bright day. Here is also where the two cafés, Very and Renard, are located. The statues displayed in the Grand Couvert are the original statues of Jean Charles Moreau which were built in 1799.
Visiting Jardin des Tuileries
Jardin des Tuileries is located in Rue de Rivoli, Ile-de-France, 75001 Paris. To get there, take metro and stop at Concorde station. There is no entrance fee since it is a public park and visitors are welcome anytime of the year.