If you want to understand the people of a city a great place to start is in one of their parks. Seeing them relaxing, at play, you can appreciate not how different they are from you but how similar.
On the Saturday afternoon of our recent visit to Paris we spent some time in the Jardins du Luxembourg. As well as enjoying our surroundings we of course indulged in that perennial Parisian sport of people watching.
We observed some games of pétanque; took lots of photos; relaxed for a while on a couple of those small green chairs that are helpfully dotted around all the Parisian parks; watched children playing with sailing boats on the pond as no doubt they have done for generations; and popped inside the Orangerie where there was a small sculpture exhibition.
The gardens date back to the early seventeenth century when they were laid out for the Luxembourg Palace, which was built by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV, as her new residence. The gardens echo those she knew as a child in Florence as well as the later more formal French style, laid out in squares.
Today this is a public park owned by the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. It contains over a hundred statues, monuments, and fountains, and is understandably popular with locals and visitors alike. Here’s just a glimpse of the activity and sights of our short visit that sunny afternoon.
I last visited Paris in September 2021, when all these photos were taken