Parisians Take Les Parcs Seriously

In Paris, parks are a serious form of entertainment. You go to a park to do nothing. Lie on the grass. Kiss your chou chou. Watch people walk buy. You don’t see much activity–when you see people jogging, you know they are Americans. When I have looked for a dog to photograph in the Tuileries, there was not a chien in sight.

It’s cooler today—the perfect day for a stroll to the park. In the late afternoon, I pack a book, a bottle of water, sunglasses and a camera and head to les Jardin des Tuilieries. Once the Royal Garden of the Louvre Palace, the Tuileries is considered Paris’s grandest park. Located on 60 acres connecting the museums of the Louvre, the Orsay, the Orangerie and the Jeu de Paume, its location makes it a favorite resting stop for weary tourists as well as for tired Parisians after a busy day at work.

A fountain at the Tuilieries with the Ferris Wheel in the background (notice white dirt)

A fountain at the Tuilieries with the Ferris Wheel in the background (notice white dirt)


The Tuilieries has dirt walking paths with white dirt/pebbles that completely trash your shoes. The dust is impossible to wipe off so I planned to always wear my Trashed Tuilieries Shoes but today I forget and wear the German Au Pair Shoes. Merde! (but perhaps the raison etre for another pair of black flats!)
People sitting by a fountain

People sitting by a fountain


People occupy every chair. They are sunning by the fountain, watching children play in the mazes, taking photographs in front of the lavender gardens. I walk midway through the park until I find a spare chair under a tree and then I plan to do what the Parisians do in parks. Relax.
A topiary at the Tuleries

A topiary at the Tuileries


But first—I want to take a few photos. O.K. Now I will read my book about Picasso. Wait, where did I put the French dictionary, I need to look up a word. O.K. now I will relax. I have nowhere I need to go and nothing I need to do—I rarely have this feeling back home.

Another of my other favorite gardens in Paris is the Luxembourg Gardens on the Left Bank. Ernest Hemingway lived near the gardens and spent many mornings there. I’m reading A Moveable Feast for the first time since I was in college (a long time ago) and I read:

You got very hungry when you did not eat enough in Paris because all of the bakery shops had such good things in the windows and people ate outside at tables on the sidewalk so that you saw and smelled the food. When you had given up journalism and were writing nothing that anyone in America would buy, explaining at home that you were lunching out with someone, the best place to go was the Luxembourg gardens where you sat and smelled nothing to eat all the way from the Place de l’Observatoire to the rue de Vaugirard.

A path at the Luxembourg Gardens

A path at the Luxembourg Gardens


At the Luxembourg Gardens, children sail little wooden boats in the lake. Light filters though the trees on paths through the park. And magnificent flower gardens.
Little wooden boats at the Luxembourg Gardens

Little wooden boats at the Luxembourg Gardens


Unlike Hemingway, I am not hungry when I visit the Luxembourg gardens–the bakery shops are my friends. My new goal is to eat every kind of fruit tart in Paris that I can find. I guess tarts are the equivalent of pie in the U.S. and tarts come in many of the same fruit flavors. So far I’ve had lemon, raspberry, apple, pear (my favorite so far). There are still rhubarb, blackberry, coconut, cherry waiting for me. So many tarts, so little time. But then, maybe I will need to join the other Americans and jog through the gardens.

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