Paris. The word invokes images of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Champs Elysées, and other famous monuments. While these sites are beyond breathtaking, they are surrounded by crowds of tourists. If these monuments are the epitome of Paris, then where are all the Parisians? If one wants to find real Parisians, you must head to the gardens. In Paris, the gardens are a bit of misnomer, because they are more than that. They are the space where Parisians take refuge from the city life. You can find people strolling and enjoying the nature; joggers; students eating lunch between class; and retirees playing pétanque, a French version of bocce ball. Most importantly, the gardens are a great place to take a break and observe all that Paris has to offer.
JARDIN DE LUXEMBOURG
Found in the 6th arrondisement, the Jardin de Luxembourg is one of my favorite places in Paris. It has a gorgeous palace and plenty of paths to wander. The palace is found in the center along with a reflecting basin and these gorgeous flowers.
Thankfully, the surrounding garden is just as interesting as the center. Just past the palace is the Fontaine de Medicis, which feels so lush covered by the trees. Pushing into the surrounding area of the garden, there are tennis courts, food vendors, a playground, and plenty of chairs. Definitely a great place to take a stroll during lunch.
JARDIN DES PLANTES
Jardin des Plantes is located in the 5th arrondissment and is near several universities. This garden contains so much more than plants; there are museums, green houses, and a zoo! The garden here is also educational. Most if not all the plants are labeled by name and there are several sections where the plants are organized by function. Such as which plants were used for dyes, spices, or herbal remedies.
My absolute favorite part of the Jardin des Plantes is that there is another garden hidden within. Once you find yourself in the center of the garden, you will then discover an underground tunnel that will take you to the Jardin Alpin. Here is a collection of mountainous plants. The garden is small but fun to explore because of the curving path.
JARDIN DES TUILERIES
The Jardin des Tuileries is located in the 1st arrondissement which is in the center of Paris. The garden is surrounded by the Seine, the Rue de Rivoli, the Louvre, and the Place de la Concorde. You might guess that this garden is pretty busy being near the tourist sites, but there’s a lot of space so you can find your own nook. Also, inside the garden is the Musee de l’Orangerie which holds eight of Monet’s waterlily paintings.
I found this garden to be a great spot to observe the Louvre without enduring the crowds. Another tip is that you can sit in the grass in the area by the Louvre, which is not typical in Parisian gardens.
Lastly, whereas the other gardens feel like a reprieve from Paris, this one has the feeling of both being in nature and being in the middle of a metropolitan city. I found it charming that you can see the Eiffel Tower from the garden. I could never forget that I was anywhere but the City of Lights.
The world awaits…discover it.