Paris Gardens!

Our summer visitors have enjoyed exploring some of Paris’s many gardens. Two of their favorites were the Jardins des Plantes and the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Brenda in the same field after the flowers get going

Brenda in the field after the flowers get going

Jardins des Plantes-Paris’s main botanical garden was founded in 1626. It was planted as a medicinal herb garden in 1635 by Louis XIII’ s physician, Guy de la Brosse. There are over 4500 plants in these spectacular grounds and they are only a short walk along the Seine from our apartment!  About 3 hectares (7.5 acres) of the total 25 hectares are planted in stunning display gardens. There is also a magical rose garden, an alpine garden, Mexican and Australian hothouses, a labyrinth and a zoo.  The Jardin des Plantes maintains a botanical school and 4 museum galleries.

Sailing ships in the Luxembourg pool

Sailing ships in the Luxembourg pool

Jardin du Luxembourg is located a bit further away from our apartment but still within walking distance-my 87 year old mother had no trouble strolling there with me! We love the wide tree lined pathways, the ice cream vendors conveniently located at the entry gates, the combination of traditional French and English gardens, the fountains and sculptures. There is even a bronze replica of the Statue of Liberty. When Henry the IV was assassinated in 1610, his wife, Marie de Medicis, had the Palais de Luxembourg and surrounding gardens built to be like those of her childhood home in Florence, Italy. She did not want to continue living at the Louvre with the memory of her slain husband. We explain a little more of the history in this previous entry about the gardens. The Palais de Luxembourg has been home to many other historical events and is now home to the French Senate.

April in Paris-Jardin du Luxembourg

Finally the trees have green leaves, tulips and flowering shrubs are blooming, and it is much more fun to visit the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens) only about half a mile from our apartment. These are the gardens featured in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables! The 60 acre park attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It includes traditional French and English style gardens, an orangery, fruit (hundreds of varieties of apple and pear trees) gardens and hot houses, the latter of which are only open to the public during European Heritage Days, this year, 2013, the 14th and 15th of September. The hot houses contain tropical orchids. The park also features beautiful fountains and about 100 statues. We will visit often as the place is a magical, green haven away from the bustle of the city. Currently the fence surrounding the gardens displays photographs of the Tour de France bicycle race. It is fascinating to see race photos dating back to the 1920’s. Until July 21st the Musée du Luxembourg (museum which is on the park grounds) has an exhibit of Chagall’s art that is on my list of things to see.

The Palais du Luxembourg shown in several of the photos has a long history. It was built in 1615 by Marie du Médicis, mother of King Louis XIII and member of the Médicis family of Florence, Italy. The Palace was a museum forerunner of the Louvre, one time home to Napoleon Bonaparte, Cardinal de Richelieu, and to Hermann Göring during World War II. It was used as a prison during the French Revolution and since has been home to the French Senate (which is not to say that the French Senate is being held in prison).

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