Which is the finest garden in all of Paris? It’s not an easy question to answer. Some are partial to the regal Tuileries, stretching out from the Louvre, winged by the Orangerie and the Musée du Jeu de Paume, and edged by the epic Place de la Concorde. Others prefer the haven of Parc Monceau, in the peaceful 17th arrondissement, with its readers lounging on benches and its locals jogging on the circular paths. I love the much smaller, but lusher and wilder gardens of the Musée de Montmartre.
But the most beloved of Paris parks would have to be the Jardins du Luxembourg. Perfectly located between the Latin Quarter, Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Montparnasse, the Luxembourg gardens have everything you could ask for: ponds and fountains where children tap wooden boats about in summer, paths to stroll along among leafy plane trees, grass you can actually lounge on, and plenty of those iconic iron seats you can sink into and read your novel or newspaper while soaking up Paris in all its glory.
For children, there are miniature pony rides, play grounds and puppet theatres. For grownups, there are stunning views of the Paris skyline, a luxe tearoom and, above all, the gold and stone artistic mecca of the Musée du Luxembourg.
Bordered by a quiet St-Germain street, the flower beds of the gardens and the imposing façade of the French Senate, the Musée du Luxembourg is a charming exhibition space in one of the most perfect locations imaginable. The museum hosts only temporary exhibitions, so check ahead to see what’s on show. But they are yet to disappoint with their collections, which have ranged from Chagall retrospectives to Renaissance representations of dreams (from which the photos in this post were drawn). At the time of writing, you could catch Paul Durand-Ruel.
Make an afternoon of it and pack a picnic to enjoy in the gardens, then saunter along the shaded pathways, lined with statues, to arrive at the museum’s doorstep ready to absorb some world-class art. The best park in Paris? I think we have a winner.