Every great city must have a great park that reflects its personality. In London, Hyde Park welcomes families, footballers and aristocrats alike to it bucolic grounds. In Amsterdam, Vondelpark is relaxed and informal, a place where stoners and runners can both find bliss on a sunny afternoon. And in Paris, there is the Jardin des Tuileries, where Parisians bask in the splendor and elegance that is their birthright.
In the 16th century, Catherine de Medicis (yup, those Medicis) commissioned a garden to be built adjacent to her residence at the Louvre palace. The garden was for the private use of the royals for the first 100 years of existence. Then, in the 17th century, it got a makeover. King Louis XIV brought in landscape architect André Le Nôtre (of Versaille fame) to work his magic. The redesigned park opened to the public in 1664; and despite some more renovations and some…unpleasantness in the 18th century, the garden has been at the epicenter of Parisian life ever since.
Today, the Tuileries is the oldest and largest garden in Paris. In addition to flowers, there are shady trees, sunny lawns, ponds, sculptures, benches and paths, all for the public to enjoy. Its prime location along the Seine between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde (and Champs-Élysées) makes it the perfect place to stroll through, picnic, people watch, read a book or just relax on your visit to Paris.
Visiting the Louvre? Your ticket allows for re-entry, so take a break from the art and get outside for a breath of fresh air, but be warned: the garden also boasts two impressive museums on its grounds: Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume and the Musée de l’Orangerie.
The garden is open from 7am to 9pm in the spring and fall, from 7am to 11pm in the summer, and from 7:30am to 7pm in the winter.
With its location near so many landmarks, it is hard not to visit the Tuileries.