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Luxemborg Gardens highlights

October 29th, 2007

luxemborg gardens_7Food and Drinks in Luxembourg Gardens
A few snack kiosks are dotted here and there on the crushed stone of the central, “sporty” area, from which you can grab bottled water, sports drinks, ice cream bars, and salty snacks. Two cafés are also in this center section of the park. A table-service café is nestled next to the museum inside the northwest entrance gate. The other is a sandwich snack hut set between the tennis courts and kids’ playground, serving also wine, beer and coffee, with under-the-trees café-style tables.

If you’ve brought picnic gear from outside the park (delicatessens and markets riddle Parisian streets), fixed benches line the paths in the central sports area, but otherwise grab one of the ubiquitous chairs and find your own spot in the action or behind a hedge next to a flower patch.

Outside Luxembourg Gardens
Before thinking about what’s nearby Lux Gardens, visit the sites within the park: the Musée du Luxembourg has new exhibits every month or so (I saw a great Titian display on a Thursday afternoon in a near-empty hall—the best way to “appreciate” art); Luxembourg Palace now houses the French Senate, so if that’s your thing, you can tour the building and perhaps see a legislative session in progress (gulp!).

Beyond the east walls protecting the palace begins the narrow streets and high comedy of Paris’s Latin Quarter. This Left Bank district began in the 1100s when the University of Paris opened, and people only spoke Latin to each other. You can find cheap hotels and hostels in the Latin Quarter—cheap by central-Paris standards—but its greatest draw are the hundreds of small restaurants and bars linings its streets. World Cuisine? Perhaps, and you get what you pay for (actually, sometimes you don’t get what you pay for; fair warning) among the various eateries: Italian, Mexican, Spanish, German, American—it’s all here.

luxemborg gardens_2Montparnasse begins a couple blocks south of the gardens (turn right at Boulevard du Montparnasse). This mostly residential neighborhood is now the swanky addresses (along with the Right Bank’s Montmartre “arts” district) of Parisian moderns, with lots of shopping and cafés. You can visit some of the cafés frequented by those famous and yet-to-be-famous people who lived in Paris for inspiration from 1880-1940s: painters and sculptors Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Auguste Rodin; novelists and playwrights Albert Camus, Andre Gide, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Plaques around the city show in which apartments they lived and worked. For more on the city, jump to the Paris city page.
Directions to Luxembourg Gardens
The Boulevard St-Michel runs north-south along Lux Gardens and bisects the Ile de la Cite, on which Notre Dame Cathedral is built. It’s a 10-15 minute walk between the two.

Just behind the palace the Rue de Tournon runs north (becoming Rue de Seine) and across the Seine onto the rear grounds of Louvre Museum.

luxemborg gardens_3Buses run all over Paris, of course, but like most other cities across the globe, good luck figuring these out (unless you hop on a bus running on a MAJOR street, which can be convenient, it will probably turn a corner and then you’re not only further from where you want to go, but lost). But if you must, #s 82 and 85 go right past the park. I use my feet, a taxi, or the Metropolitan subway to get around Paris. The RER “B” line has a stop at the picturesque southern entrance.

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