Mon 23 Aug 2010
I’m consistently awestruck every time we visit our ‘Jardin.’ We’re so lucky to have le Jardin du Luxumbourg as our backyard. Even after more than a decade and a half of coming to this lovely city each year, I have always found this park and its gardens magical. Lately, I’ve found myself reading more about the planning of the space.
The Project for Public Spaces, a major urban planning think tank, considers the Luxembourg Gardens to be one of the most successful parks in the world, partly because it is so well integrated into the fabric of the city around it, which makes it easily accessible. There are also many things to do there, evidenced by the wide range of people who use it: children, older people, Sorbonne students, people cutting through on a lunch break, etc. People come to stroll, play chess, to sit and read, people watch, to sit at one of the cafes or to bring their children or grandchildren to one of the many attractions. During the past decade, it has also become ground zero for French runners and athletes, who run/walk laps around the perimeter roads in the Park. In addition, an organic fruit garden has sprung up in the southern section of the park, with pears, lemons, and oranges in full harvest. Organized activities at the park include tennis, pony rides, puppet theatres, and toy sailboat rental (children float them in the large central fountain). We have used them all. I just realized that visitors can also stop inside the Palais and attend a hearing of the French Senate, which is open to the public.
The Gardens also host innovative exhibits, such as one of aerial photographs from around the world. Twice or thrice a year, the exhibits are mounted on its perimeter gates facing Rue de Vaugirard and Blvd. St Michel. In addition, it has an intimate Musée where we have seen some of the most memorable expositions, like the exquisite and rare Modigliani show we saw a couple of years ago.
I can imagine why Marie de Medici, bereaved after the death of her husband, could no longer live in the Louvre, and wanted to have this palace and the gardens built to remind of her childhood home, Palazzo Pitti in Florence. We all want to be ‘home.’ My husband and I walk through the Jardin daily, and talk about whether indeed, this can or cannot be ‘a moveable feast.’