The Madeline Connection
The Luxembourg Gardens is the scene shown on the page that carries the phrase "or shine -" in the first book of the series, Madeline. ("They left the house at half-past nine, in rain, or shine – the smallest one was Madeline"). In this illustration, it’s a beautiful sunny day, the little girls are wearing their yellow summer outfits and each has a balloon tied to her wrist (the balloons can be purchased inside the Gardens, near the puppet theater). The large structure that you see beyond the pool is the Luxembourg Palace. Wooden toy sailboats can be rented to sail on the octagonal pond seen in the drawing (there are goldfish swimming there, too!).
Things Kids Might Like to Know
The palace was once the home of a queen, Marie de Médicis, and this was her garden. Marie was the wife of Henri IV, the king who had built the Pont Neuf. She had the palace and the gardens built in the 1620s (after Henri IV died) to remind her of Florence, Italy, which was where she grew up. There are over 100 statues in the gardens, most of them of famous dead people, for example, the queens of France.
Something that a lot of people don’t know about this park is that there is a school for bee-keepers here, with an aviary that contains about 20 bee-hives! In September, the honey from the hives is harvested and sold in the park (near the intersection of Rue de Guynemer and Rue de Vaugiraud).
For Grown-ups to Know
The Luxembourg Gardens have been a favorite place for tourists and Parisians alike since the eighteenth century, when it was a fashionable place to promenade. The eastern section of the park is where you will find the Fountain de Médicis, the ice cream sellers, the open-air café and the bandstand. Musical concerts take place here during the daytime, between the months of April and August.
The children’s area is in the western section of the park, near rue Guynemer. There is a modern children’s playground there, along with an older carousel and puppet theater (both much beloved of several generations of French children). There is a food stand with outdoor seating, very popular with families.
In the southwest corner of the garden is the Verger du Luxembourg (National Conservatory of Apples and Pears), which was founded by Napoléon in 1809. There are 270 species of pear trees and 360 species of apple trees cultivated here.
The park also offers tennis courts, gravel courts for playing boules (petanque), small tables for chess or bridge games and quiet areas to sit or stroll in sun or shade.
The Luxembourg Palace was seized from the royal family during the Revolution and for a time was used as a prison. The western end of the Palace later became Paris’ first public art gallery, and is still used for occasional temporary exhibits. The main building of the Palace has housed the French Senate since 1958.
Location: Bounded by Rue de Guynemer, Rue de Vaugiraud and Rue de Médicis in the 6th arrondissement.
Métro: Odéon, #4
Buses: 42, 69, 72, 82, 87
Hours of Operation: All year daily. Open from 7:00 AM in the summer until one hour before sunset. Open from 8:00 AM in the winter until one hour before sunset
Entrance Fee: None