Luxembourg Gardens

The heart of the Left Bank, bounded by Rue de Vaugirard, Boulevard St. Michel, Rue Auguste-Comte, and Rue Guynemer
Paris, France

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

A 60-acre park known for its extraordinary public amenities, including fountains, sculpture, ponds, flowerbeds, tennis courts, pony rides, a marionette theatre, playgrounds, food kiosks and open-air cafes.

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Why It Works

The Luxembourg Gardens may well be one of the most successful parks in the world, partly because it is so well integrated into the fabric of the city around it, which makes it easily accessible. There are also many things to do there, evidenced by the wide range of people who use it: children, older people, Sorbonne students, people cutting through on a lunch break, etc. People come to stroll, play chess, to sit and read, people watch, to sit at one of the cafes or to bring their children or grandchildren to one of the many attractions for kids. Organized activities at the park include tennis, pony rides, puppet theatres, and toy sailboat rental (children float them in the large central fountain). Visitors can also stop inside the Palais and attend a hearing of the French Senate, which is open to the public.

The Gardens also host innovative exhibits, such as one of aerial photographs from around the world, encased in plastic and displayed on the fence surrounding the garden; a large wooden platform displayed a map showing the sites of the photographs, with slippers provided for people who wanted to walk on it - which many did.

History & Background

The Gardens came about as a result of Henri IV's assassination in 1610. His wife, Marie de Medicis, could not continue living in the Louvre with his memory. She had the Palais du Luxembourg and the surrounding gardens built to replicate her childhood home, Florence’s Palazzo Pitti. The Luxembourg Gardens were completed in 1625, but did not reach their present dimensions until 1790. The park has been open to the public since the 17th century. The construction of nearby streets and avenues during the Second Empire reduced its size, but not its general appearance.

Some of the Gardens' more notable features include the Medicis Fountain, erected in 1861, and a bronze replica of the Statue of Liberty. The park, which closes at sunset, also has a multitude of strolling paths, and is filled with hundreds of movable chairs, which can be rented. Outdoor concerts also occur in the Luxembourg Gardens.

The design is basically formal: a central parterre dominated by terraces. Allees of trees surround the central terraces and continue in every direction except north, where the Palais du Luxembourg dominates. A free, more English-style garden is situated along Rue Guynemer and Rue Auguste-Comte; it was built during the first Empire and contains winding paths, grassy open areas, and a wide array of sculpture.

Contact Info:

Palais du Luxembourg; 15 rue de Vaugirard; 75006 Paris; Phone: 0331 42 34 20 00; Fax: 0331 42 34 31 85

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