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).