Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jardin du Luxembourg

I wish I’d had time to visit more of Paris’ gardens. The city has more public green spaces than most cities of its size, including some where residents can plant gardens.

One place I enjoyed a great deal was Jardin du Luxembourg, or Luxembourg Gardens. It had come highly recommended by several friends and blog buddies. My guide book says it is the "most used" park in Paris. I don't know if that's true, but many were enjoying it while I was there!

I later learned it was one of the most popular in Paris, with not only a beautiful open space and fountains, but more formal garden beds, a puppet theatre (which I missed), tennis courts and other recreational areas as well.

When one enters (at least from the direction I did), they immediately encounter the famous Medici Fountain.

The architect of this Baroque fountain is unknown, but the mythological figures were added in 1886 by August Ottin. The fountain tells a romantic Greek myth, with the figures in a sculpted grotto at the end of a long, narrow pool.

I was pleased to see young artists dabbling in their sketchbooks, and so I did the same -- a little sketch of this railing (but it's definitely not yet ready for prime time!)

People gathered by the shaded fountain simply to sit and talk, enjoy a bit of a treat (have I mentioned people in Paris eat all the time?) and simply revel in the beauty of the fountain.

Every bit of detail was lovely. I also did a rough sketch of the top of the grotto. Again, the photo is far better!

Deeply romantic and powerful, I simply could not resist shooting lots of photos! (These could turn into Rick’s Valentine’s card someday!)

As I sat by the fountain with my pen and journal in hand, I couldn’t help but be aware of music coming from the bandstand. “Thriller.” “9-5.” “Goldfinger.” “Staying Alive.” It was the top 40 of the 70s through the 80s, played by what sounded like a concert band. And very out of place!

I couldn’t resist an excursion to check it out and learned it was a group from a high school in Glasgow!

The Medici Fountain isn’t the only beautiful spot of Luxembourg Gardens. An enormous castle, completed in 1631 by Salomen de Brosse and based on Florence’s Pitti Palace, was built for Queen Marie de Medicis (Henri IV’s widow), but she was banished before it was completed. (The painter David was held in prison here.)

Now used for the French Senate, the castle stands at one end of the park, and in front of it is a large pool with yet another fountain.

Beds of flowers surround it, carefully tended by the French gardeners I had come to respect.

And chairs. Lots of chairs. People reading, talking, eating, listening to music. Laying on the grass, obviously in love – or lust. It is Paris, after all.

A large modern statue stands at the top of steps leading from one level to another.

While in another spot, a more classical tribute to the artist Delacroix is featured.

And the ever-present St. Genevieve, patron saint of Paris, is included as well. She was a wealthy fifth century Gallo-Roman landowner. When Paris was invaded by the Huns, she prayed with friends for the city to be spared. When her prayers were answered, she became the saint. The station is by Michel-Luis Victor from 1845.

This photo isn't much to write home about, but do you see the spikes at the top? One will see spikes all over buildings and statues in France -- it prevents pigeons from resting there!

Even the dogs are cared for. Although this photo is fuzzy, you see the dog drinking from a tupperware-type tub under a spigot.

Dogs. Have I mentioned the dogs yet? You can’t go anywhere in France without having canine companions at hand. The parks, the café’s, the city streets. I was told that a simple beggar would be passed by (and there were plenty of them), but a beggar with a dog was almost guaranteed to get a coin or two from thoughtful passersby.

The favorite seems to be the Jack Russell, but I see dogs of all breeds – mostly small or medium in size.

There was more to come that afternoon and evening – but that’s for another post!

Things I Learned Today:

People in Paris really use their parks. They are crowded and while tourists are certainly present, they were far from the only users of the Jardin du Luxembourg.

One can find a concert at the drop of a hat. Maybe in a park, maybe in a church, maybe on a street.

People are very friendly. If one simply tries their best with what little French they have, the French will come to their aid.


BONNIE K said...

What a nice way to spend a Sunday morning - by having a mini-vacation by watching your vacation description and pix. For some reason, I was amused by the music being played, as well as the things they put on the statues to keep the birds away! On a side note, make sure D and J give you the early b-day present I sent along.

Beth said...

I agree with Bonnie, I felt like I was with you seeing every thing. Great way to spend Sunday morning.
I Love the park and the flowers of course. But what touched my heart is how they love their doggy pals. That is wonderful. The statues were so romantic too.

Char said...

Thankyou so much for sharing this beauty with us today. I loved it all, not a good as being there, but second best. Happy Pink Saturday, Char

anno said...

A gorgeous Sunday morning post -- I sure enjoyed this walk in the park. Glad to see you made it to one of my favorite places.

Sugar Bear said...

Oh so beautiful! It is like a dream.

joyce said...

It looks like a very "classic" park...the background music would most defintitely be out of place..but it made me giggle! said...

Are there still dumpy little old ladies that make you pay to sit on the chairs in the Jardin de L? Or is that long past? Are there still kids sailing small boats on the pond, poking them with purpose-made sticks? Is there still a puppet theater?

~*~Magpie's Nest said...

absolutely splendid!!!

Joanne Huffman said...

Public gardens and parks are always so beautiful in Europe. Very cool! I love going along with you on this trip.


Quiltmoose - Dagmar said...

Seems like you had a great time! Thanks again for sharing those beautiful photos!

jet1960 said...

You got some great shots that will be good to use in art later on. Well, they are lovely enough just on their own.

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