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Jardin du Luxembourg‎

Type: Park
Cost: $0
Tags: city, France, garden, Paris, park
5
 
 
City: Paris, France
Address & Details:

15 Rue de Vaugirard

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by Kabrina McLaughlin

As you pass through the gates, you see that it’s what you would expect of a garden in Paris: classy serenity with soft, pretty flowers and even prettier people. Quiet families and pushy, fabulous twenty-somethings amble about or sit on one of the many metal chairs or benches lined up around the circumference of the park. Also expected are the unspoken rules that instantly highlight the outsiders. Though the park grounds are sprawling, only half of the area is actual lawn and the other half hard, compacted dirt. Save yourself disappointment and avoid imagining how good your travel-weary feet will feel in the cool, dewy grass, for going anywhere near it is forbidden. From what I saw, no signs warn you of this potential offense. One only knows this after watching the many children sitting and fidgeting on benches, gazing longingly at the cushiony, beckoning grass only to be reminded by the stern gaze of the “park police” that they better look, and not touch. Only sweet little sparrows are permitted, and they dominate, hopping teasingly over to the edge of the grass, taunting everyone, including the not so sweet pigeons (who also seem to know their place and merely hover nearby.) Instead, you sit on the benches that are lovingly spattered by the pigeons’ protests to the garden’s rules, getting gravel in your shoes instead of dew in your toes.


At this moment you may be tempted to band together with your fellow outcasts and toss those pigeons a breadcrumb or two, but alas that, too, will summon the ever vigilant park patrol. (In this case, just do what I did, and run.)

Evade capture by ducking into the odd, underground, unisex pay toilet with the fabulous bathroom attendant (the day I went she was wearing heels, pearls, and a dress that was far too nice to wear when handing out toilet paper.) Like other public bathrooms you pay first, pee later, and wait in a seemingly endless line. Here, though, that line is especially painful as you have all ages and sexes sharing three lined up stalls and one weird curtained off toilet. Once back outside, you can then stop by the large, rustic scale



(just one euro for public humiliation) or join the many well behaved children playing on the dirt.

Let me stop here and point out, though, that in no way is any of this anything but wonderful, and spending even an hour here is a delightful way to absorb the local vibe. One of the best ways to get immersed into a culture is to watch locals at play, and Jardin du Luxembourg does not disappoint. Just meander, admire, and follow the rules, and you will have a great time.

So, next saunter over to the area filled with bocci court after bocci court and a daunting roped off raceway (literally a large, open stretch of dirt filled with children careening around on big wheels and tricycles.) You’ll either want to be 5 again or to somehow become a 50 yr old Parisian man so that either way you can participate in the revelry. Instead, soak it up as you walk by. After you pass the last trike, the path of trees widen to present to you the Palais du Luxembourg, or Le Sénat, and the luxurious surrounding area.



Here one truly gets the royal feeling while gazing down at the well groomed lawn and center fountain, or the lake filled with classic wooden toy sailboats. Don’t miss “Le Prophéte,” a large ominous sculpture (by artist Louis Derbré) that silently watches over the gardens, almost as an extra, giant pair of eyes, helping the “park police” enforce the rules. If you share the same level of luck I do, by this point the clouds will be opening up. So, walk (or dart) straight ahead, with “Le Prophéte’s” gaze behind you, and exit the garden onto busy Blvd. Saint-Michel, where you are smashed back into city life. As you’re crossing the street to buy an umbrella and you narrowly miss a tour bus barreling for you, you’ll realize you’ll be back to Jardin du Luxembourg, and soon… maybe to sail a boat or to even sneak onto the grass…