Paris gardens beckon locals and tourists alike to sit and relax, rest your weary feet, forget the cares of the day, revel in the green of the grass and trees, and enjoy the bright-colored blooms. This being Paris, a palace may be nearby, and artistic sculptures adorn the gardens. Ponds and lakes and fountains add to the ambience.
Here are a few of my favorite Paris gardens.
The Tuileries Gardens
Sprawling just outside the Louvre, the Tuileries Gardens are the most famous of the many parks in Paris. The Tuileries takes its name from the tile factories that occupied this land when Queen Catherine de Medici built her palace here in 1564. A hundred years later, King Louis XIV hired his gardener to redesign the gardens in their current French formal style.
The Tuileries includes two large ponds and sculptures, such as the one pictured here by Jean-Baptiste Hugues, titled “L’Homme et sa Misere.” Paris has its own triumphal arch, which looks much like Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. The triumphal arch has graced this garden area since the 1600s.
Stroll along, sit a while in one of the green chairs scattered about, and maybe stop for a coffee at the little cafe. Pop into the small museum of Monet’s paintings, the Orangerie, at one end of the gardens. After you’ve sauntered through the Tuileries, you emerge at the Place de Concorde, back in the busy circle at the heart of Paris.
Lovely Luxembourg Gardens, with its resident palace, dates back to 1612. The gardens were designed for Princess Marie de Medici, who became Queen of France. The palace is now used by the French Senate. The gardens offer spacious lawns, tree-lined lanes, sculptures, and fountains. My favorite part of these Paris gardens is the toy boats. On weekends, children can sail colorful wooden toy boats in the lake. The young ones run around the lake chasing the boats and laughing. It’s simply charming.
This elegant garden in the Marais district is the earliest planned green space in Paris. A perfect square of only 150 yards on each side, the Place des Vosges is bordered by 36 buildings. Victor Hugo lived here, and his home is now a museum you can visit. What I love about this Paris garden is that locals come here to hang out, study, work out, and wander. On a Sunday afternoon, it’s the place to be.
The Formal Gardens at Versailles
The formal gardens found out the back door of the palace at Versailles amaze me with their symmetry and color. Swirls of flower beds and hedges invite you to enjoy nature. You can tour the palace and then come outside for fresh air and the view. There’s something satisfying about these rows of impeccably trimmed trees.
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If you are in Paris long enough for a day trip, take the train out to Monet’s residence, Giverny, to peruse the gardens and the famous lily pond. In the US, my favorite is New York’s Central Park during springtime.
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