I am honored to have been asked to participate in a very special series of interviews called Paris – A Personal View. Des Coulam, whose passion is to record the sounds of Paris, is the creative genius behind the series. He recorded my observations of the Luxembourg Garden—my favorite place in Paris—as we took a leisurely walk through it.
I took Des to several of my preferred spots in the garden. We began outside the gate, where there is currently a photo exposition on the Tour de France. There are a few photos of “vintage” races in the 1920s and 50s, but the majority of them are from competitions that have taken place in the last twenty years. The images are stunning!
We then walked to the eastern terrace near the boat basin, where I showed Des an image of Loïs Mailou Jones’ 1948 painting of the Luxembourg Palace and the towers of Saint-Sulpice beyond. There has been virtually no change in the landscape since she painted it 64 years ago!
I stopped briefly at the southernmost point of the parterre to talk about Gaston Monnerville, brilliant legal mind and President of the French Senate—a sculpture of him stands just outside the garden. Then we headed over to the statue of Marie de Medicis, the women whom we need to thank for having built the palace and garden. Thank goodness she pined for the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens of her native Florence so much that she tried to have them recreated in Paris!
We next stopped to admire the Zadkine sculpture Le Poète ou l’Hommage à Paul Eluard. This is my favorite piece of art in the garden. I love Zadkine’s story and his works, many of which you can find on the streets of Paris as well as in his studio-turned-museum near the garden.
From Zadkine, the conversation turned to fruits, bees, and the Chartreuse monks when we strolled to the southwest corner of the garden. This is where the espaliered orchard produces fruits for the French Senate, beekeeping courses are taught, and honey from the garden’s apiary is sold in the fall.
To finish our tour, we visited the Statue of Liberty, strode past the Orangerie, stopped to admire the view of the Pantheon at the far end of rue Soufflot, and talked briefly about the Medicis Fountain. I shared some final thoughts about the garden as we walked by the crocuses (a sure sign that spring has arrived) that grow near the exit that faces the Odéon Theater.
I hope you enjoy this audio tour and the beautiful photos that accompany it!
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