Paris 2006 - Jardin du Luxembourg

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After visiting Sainte Chapelle, I went on a lengthly but scenic forced march under a hot sun down Rue Bonaparte and many other narrow twisty side streets and across many confusing plazas to an upscale part of Paris on the western edge of St.-Germain-des-Prés (the 6th arrondissement). My mission was to buy a present at Le Bon Marché, perhaps the world's ritziest and most expensive department store. Ironically, in French, the phrase "bon marché" means "inexpensive". Go figure!

On the way, I passed by many beautiful art gallery shops and some small but extremely elegant outposts of the shopping kingdoms of Dior, Cartier, and Tiffany. I enjoyed a bit of "lèche-vitrines", the French phrase for "window shopping" (literally "window licking"). This was another side of Paris I had not yet experienced. The people on the street were older and much better dressed than the students and other people in my neighborhood in the Latin Quarter around the Sorbonne. I hear that the really elegant shopping districts are all over on the other side of the river, on the right bank. I can't imagine how they could top what I saw on my walk, but I suppose it's possible! This journey took several hours.

Finally, in the afternoon, I arrived hot, tired, hungry, and thirsty, at Jardin du Luxembourg, on the eastern side of St.-Germain-des-Prés, a few blocks southwest of the Sorbonne. This was one of my favorite places in the city. I spent several hours there. I think it would be fair to compare this huge park to Central Park in New York City. This picture only shows the central core of the park, with its large pool, fountain, and flower beds. Notice the high-rise building in the background that spoils the view. This building is the exception that proves the rule. I was told that when this building was constructed, Parisians were so angry they demanded that it never happen again.

I loved these cherubs holding up a bowl overflowing with pretty flowers at the top of a stairway leading up from the central garden, next to the flowering bush.

I ate lunch in a grove of trees and listened to this school band play John Philip Sousa marches. It reminded me of the many such concerts I attended when my own kids were in middle and high school. The French kids played a bit better, but not much, but the environment was infinitely better, with the cool breeze under the trees and a nice sandwich and a beer, sitting in a chair resting my feet and cooling off, refueling, and getting a second wind. I ordered "un Jambon" at the takeout window of a café in the park. This very simple ham sandwich on a long crusty loaf of fresh French bread is a staple in Paris for a quick snack, lunch, or a picnic. It was such a pleasant environment, and I was so hungry, that I think this was actually the most satisfying meal I had in Paris!

Children on a merry-go-round, with their parents watching on the benches.

An unexpected encounter with a replica of the Statue of Liberty.

A typical garden in the park, with a circular lawn and flower bed surrounding a statue, with benches around the path under the shade trees. A different team of gardeners is in charge of each such section of the park, and there's an annual competition to see who can create the most beautiful garden.

A pretty flower box.

A particularly beautiful bed of flowers.

An avenue of trees at the south end of the park. In this area there are tennis and boules courts. In the distance at the north end of the park you can see the Palais du Luxembourg, where the French senate meets.