Part of the fun of being in Paris for a while is strolling through the beautiful Tuileries Garden. Created by Catherine de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was eventually opened to the public in 1667 and became a public park after the French Revolution. Parisians immediately loved it as a place to relax, meet, celebrate and promenade, and this continues to this day.
The gardens are a “happening” place almost any time of the year, but especially in warmer weather. There is usually a special exhibition of some kind, either an outdoor sculpture, or a show, such as the Jardins Jardin this year (2014). For these, you may have to pay, but otherwise the gardens are free. These lovely gardens are well loved and well cared for and you’ll often see a group of gardeners hard at work, cutting, pruning, planting, raking. From about mid-March, when the lawns are just greening and the trees budding, the gardeners already have the flower beds beautifully planted so they are colorful, and this continues way into the autumn.
Wide straight gravel walkways lead from the Arc du Carrousel at the edge of the Louvre Museum, to Place de la Concorde, with views all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. The paths are lined with flower beds, swathes of lawn, avenues of trees, and meander around huge circular fountains that are fringed with white marble statues of saints, Romans, nymphs, men with beasts etc.
Playgrounds with trampolines, a musical carrousel, chairs a-plenty, four outdoor cafes, and various food/drink kiosks all make it very people-friendly. Locals flock here—groups of school kids, people with kids in strollers or running around, bikers, dogs, young and old; tourists by the gazillion; youth on roller blades; folk with icecreams. People sit by the fountains, or pull up a chair to read or to have a nap.
It’s a busy place, but also a very relaxing place. Every time we visit Paris we walk through here at least a couple of times—even in the rain!
The Orangerie Museum (near the Concorde gate, facing the River Seine) is also situated
in the gardens. The Orangerie was built in 1852 to shelter the orange trees of the Tuileries Garden. It was later used for many things, such as a deposit for goods, an examination room, lodging for mobilized soldiers, and a place for sporting, musical, and patriotic events or special exhibitions. In 1921, it became an annexe to the Musee de Luxembourg, and is now home to a great Impressionist paintings collection, most notable being Monet’s Water Lilies. The gardens also host a summer fair, with rides, games, and a huge Ferris wheel.
There’s a public WC just inside the gates on the Place de la Concorde side.
All this is very similar to what we find in the equally popular and lovely Luxembourg Gardens on the other side of the River Seine, close to the Sorbonne and the Pantheon.