Despite its grandiose beginnings as the grounds for a royal palace, the 53-acre (23-hectare) Luxembourg Gardens is known as a park of the people.
It’s a place where students from the nearby Sorbonne University sprawl on the lawns. Children splash in the boating lake, take pony rides, or a turn on the carousel. Parisian workers seeking respite from the city’s bustle sit at quaint, shaded tables playing chess.
Free classical concerts are held in the gazebo in the warmer months. The Luxembourg Museum, tucked in the northwest corner of the gardens, hosts major exhibitions twice yearly should you wish to head indoors. Also popular are the apiary with an orchard nearby and the marionette theater.
Before settling on the lawn with a baguette and a book, and maybe a glass of wine from the café near the gazebo, wander through the gardens to discover the many historical structures. You may see more than 100 statues, as well as the famous Medici Foundation. The fountain is decorated with French sculptor Auguste Ottin’s famous work, Polyphemus Surprising Acis and Galatea.
The park is dotted with many interesting works of art, such as Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s original, small-scale model of the Statue of Liberty. Look for the sculptures dedicated to great names in the arts, such as Baudelaire, Beethoven and George Sand.
The Luxembourg Garden is located in the 6th arrondissement. The park is the garden of the French Senate, which is itself housed in the Luxembourg Palace. Entry is free; however, there is a small fee for the children’s playground. Opening hours change monthly, so check on the website before going.