Luxembourg Gardens

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The Jardin du Luxembour, known in English as the Luxembourg Garden, colloquially referred to as the Jardin du Sénat (Senate Garden), is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, France.

Creation of the garden began in 1612 when Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV, constructed the Luxembourg Palace as her new residence. The garden today is owned by the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. It covers 23 hectares (56.8 acres) and is known for its lawns, tree-lined promenades, tennis courts, flowerbeds, model sailboats on its octagonal Grand Bassin, as well as picturesque Medici Fountain, built in 1620. The name Luxembourg comes from the Latin Mons Lucotitius, the name of the hill where the garden is located.

We first discovered and visited this park in July 2023, as it was conventialy located close to our Boutique Hotel Sainte-Beuve in Paris

Kids playground inside the park territory

There was quite awesome, but paid, kids playground located inside the Luxembourg gardens territory. We paid about EUR 5 for an entrance here, our 4-year old daughter spent some good hour here.

Luxembourg Palace

In 1611, Marie de' Medici, the widow of Henry IV and the regent for the King Louis XIII, decided to build a palace in imitation of the Pitti Palace in her native Florence. She purchased the Hôtel du Luxembourg (today the Petit Luxembourg) and began construction of the new palace. She commissioned Salomon de Brosse to build the palace and a fountain, which still exists. In 1612 she had 2,000 elm trees planted; she directed a series of gardeners, most notably Tommaso Francini, to build a park in the style she had known as a child in Florence.

Francini planned two terraces with balustrades and parterres laid out along the axis of the château, aligned around a circular basin. He also built the Medici Fountain to the east of the palace as a nympheum, an artificial grotto and fountain, without its present pond and statuary. The original garden was just eight hectares in size.

The Medicci Fountain

The Medici Fountain was built in 1630 by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France and regent of King Louis XIII of France. It was designed by Tommaso Francini, a Florentine fountain maker and hydraulic engineer who was brought from Florence to France by King Henry IV. It was in the form of a grotto, a popular feature of the Italian Renaissance garden. It fell into ruins during the 18th century, but in 1811, at the command of Napoleon Bonaparte, the fountain was restored by Jean Chalgrin, the architect of the Arc de Triomphe. In 1864–66, the fountain was moved to its present location, centered on the east front of the Palais du Luxembourg. The long basin of water was built and flanked by plane trees, and the sculptures of the giant Polyphemus surprising the lovers Acis and Galatea, by French classical sculptor Auguste Ottin, were added to the grotto's rockwork.

Author or this blog and family captured in action

The gardens are featured prominently in Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables. It is here that the principal love story of the novel unfolds, as the characters Marius Pontmercy and Cosette first meet. Several scenes of André Gide's novel The Counterfeiters also take place in the gardens.

Henry James also uses the gardens, in The Ambassadors, as the place in which his character Lambert Strether has an epiphany about his identity. The final scene of William Faulkner's novel Sanctuary is set in the gardens. Patrick Modiano heard the news he had won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature via a mobile phone call from his daughter while he was walking through Paris "just next to the Jardin du Luxembourg".

Non-literary references include as the setting for a few episodes of French in Action, the 10th Joe Dassin's 1976 studio album Le Jardin du Luxembourg, the cover of Tame Impala's 2012 album Lonerism, the title of a song by the band The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger and the gardens and palace being added as a mission in the video game Assassin's Creed Unity.

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