LUNCHTIME WANDERING: THE LUXEMBOURG GARDENS
Yesterday before college started I took myself off for a walk around the Luxembourg Gardens. October in Paris is nothing like I’m used to – maybe it’s because of this Indian summer we’ve still been seeing. The weather has just been so warm and close lately that it makes for ideal photo opportunities!
I had an excellent time anyway. I just went strolling around the park and, since I was by myself and had zero time constraints, I found that I paid a lot more attention to the park’s activities than I usually do.
Know what I noticed this time round? The chess players. There’s always been an area of the park dedicated to petanque, a French game of boules, but I never before noticed the marquees with the chess tables. It seems like the perfect place for old men gatherings – they’ve got their afternoons sorted. An hour of throwing little metal balls at another little metal ball followed by a game or two of chess followed by a casual stroll to the band stands. It’s idyllic. I’ll probably never learn the skills to partake in such games, but I can happily enjoy them as a common park observer nonetheless.
And in this common observer mode, there’s just so much to see in the gardens. When you reach the half way mark, you end up coming across the junior school. Aside from the mildly out of place swings and slides, there’s an area filled with green cloth bunting (or at least it was the day I was there) where kids raced up and down on go-karts and worked their way around randomly placed obstacle courses. Cute didn’t cover it.
As I continued wandering around the park, I ended up finding so many more wonderful little things that just makes the place such an excellent idea for walks and people watching. When you follow the paths around the Luxembourg Gardens, you invariably end up stumbling across their gardeners covering the apple trees with little plastic bags to protect the apples, or their insect houses, perfectly made to cater to their many legged residents. You’ll see the guards patrolling and stopping every now and again to give directions to tourists and you’ll see tour guides taking large groups of people around the palace too. If there’s enough demand for it, you can even stop and sit at one of the cafes within the park and people watch. That’s the best idea really – you see all sorts.
I don’t know very much about Marie de Medicis, but the woman most certainly had taste. Her fountain is a testimony to such. Even the way she designed the park to have such an array of features – fruit gardens, terraces, grottos, forest paths… It’s modelled on her childhood days of Florence apparently, and you can almost imagine it as an apt reflection of such, but placed so perfectly in modern day France.
I think the thing that tops it off for me is that it’s so close to my home in the Centre Culturel Irlandais. If I need to clear my head at all or get fresh air, there’s no place better. It’s been especially useful recently, now that study is creeping back into my routine.
I’ll leave this post here. Luxembourg Gardens, or la Jardin du Luxembourg, as it’s affectionately known to the locals (which I almost consider myself at this stage), gets all five stars. It deserves every bit of it.