Jardin du Luxembourg
Stretching out over an area of 60 acres, Le Jardin du Luxembourg is the largest park within the city’s limits. Opened to the public in the 19th century, the park and palace were built in 1612 for the Medici family.
The palace, modelled on the Pitti Palace in Florence, sits at the northern end of the park and has enjoyed a colourful history, having served as a prison during the French Revolution, the Luftwaffe headquarters during World War II, and most recently as the seat of the French Senate. The baroque gardens are beautifully laid out with statues and fountains breaking up the regimented lawns and borders. The lawns are strewn with cast-iron benches, as it’s forbidden to sit on the grass (and the park policemen enjoy hiding in the bushes to catch transgressors). For children there are pony rides, a boating pond and a puppet theatre. The western area of the park is given over to sport while in the north-west corner chess enthusiasts congregate to pit their wits against all-comers. In the summer open-air concerts and operas are staged.