Literally translated as The Garden of Luxembourg, Jardin du Luxembourg is the second largest public park in Paris located on 224,500 m² of land, just right in front of Luxembourg Palace, the place which houses the French senate.
Jardin du Luxembourg: The History
Jardin du Luxembourg is the first French garden which is influenced by Italian Baroque. The reason is simple. This garden was build to complement the Palace which was built by the order of Marie de Medicis, King Henry IV’s widow, who wanted to have an imitation of Pitti Palace of her hometown, Florence. The palace was built on the top of Luxembourg Hotel after she purchased it in 1911. The construction of the palace and the fountain was commissioned to Salomon de Brosse.
In 1612, Marie de Medicis started to build the garden by planting 2,000 elm trees and hired some notable gardeners. One of them was Tommaso Francini, a gardener who built a park in Florence where Marie de Medicis used to go to. Francini then build two terraces with balustrades, Medici Fountain at the east of the palace, parterres along the chateau’s axis, and an artificial grotto.
The original size of the garden was only eight hectares. De Medicis expanded the garden in 1630 when she purchased 30 additional hectares. This time, she hired Jacques Boyceau de la Barauderie, the gardener of Tuileries and Versailles royal garden. De la Barauderie added a series of squares along the east-west alley and parterres of flowers and hedges in front of the palace. An octagonal basin was also added by de la Barauderie.
Unfortunately, the garden was much abandoned after Henry IV was thrown over the throne. In 1780, the Comte de Provence even sold the easter part of the garden for housing.
The star shone upon the garden one more time after the French Revolution. The French Directory decided to expand the garden by confiscating the land of the Carthusian monks. With 40 hectares land area to design Jean Chalgrin was hired. This architect who was once designed the Arc de Triomphe restore the Medici Fountain and put a long perspective from palace to the observatory.
Jardin du Luxembourg: Today
Jardin du Luxembourg is featured several times in popular culture such as in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables and Henry James’ The Ambassadors. The park is also the home to numerous statues with Medici Fountain as its best and most valuable object.
There are apple orchard and pear trees in the southwest corner and also a puppet theater. A big area of fenced-in playground was built for young children to play while their parents relaxing themselves enjoying the garden’s view and tranquility. A tennis court is also available for those who want to do some sport in the morning although you will see more people prefer playing boules, a French game of tossing balls, as their physical exercise.
If a descent park performance is what you look for, there are always free musical shows to watch presented in a gazebo. While enjoying the shows, you visitors can explore the French café cuisine in a restaurant nearby with both indoor and outdoor seating.
Jardin du Luxembourg Sculpture Works
There are more than one hundred statues, monuments, and fountains in Jardin du Luxembourg. There are around twenty sculptures of French queens and female saints standing on pedestals along the green space of the garden. Other sculpture works including:
Ludwig von Beethoven, by Antoine Bourdelle
Statue of Liberty, first model, by Frédéric Bartholdi
Pierre Guillaume Frédéric le Play, by André Joseph Allar
La Bocca della Verità
Hippomenes by Jean Antoine Injalbert
Animal sculptures by Auguste Cain
Clémence Isaure by Antoine-Augustin Préault
Hercules Diverting the River Alpheus, 1900, and L’Effort, 1902, both by Pierre Roche
Monument to Édouard Branly, by Charles Marie Louis Joseph Sarrabezolles
Theseus and the Minotaur, by Etienne-Jules Ramey
Visiting Jardin du Luxembourg
The official address of the park is on Boulevard Saint-Michel, Ile-de-France, Paris, France, 75006. You can reach the address by Metro line 4 or 10 to Odeon station or line B to Luxembourg station.
You won’t need to purchase any ticket to enter the park so make sure you won’t miss to enjoy the remarkable sculpture collection and Paris fresh air. Jardin du Luxembourg is accessible every day from 7 am to one hour before sunset in summer. In winter, it opens one hour late at 8 am until one hour before sunset.
6e Arrondissement, 75006 Paris, France
Phone +33 1 40 46 08 88
Opening times – All year, Daily, Open 7am to 1 hour before sunset in summer, Open 8am to 1 hour before sunset in winter Admission – Entrance free Website -http://www.paris.fr/EN/Visiting/gardens/jardin_luxembourg.asp