Want to take a breath of fresh air between two visits to the heart of the French capital?Want to take a breath of fresh air after roaming countless museums in Paris? Head for the emblematic Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden): an oasis of tranquility far from the citys hustle and bustle!
Follow the guide!
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to know more about the history of Paris? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the capital. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
Are you looking for a hotel in Paris? Feel free to have a look at the Captain’s recommendations: Where to sleep in Paris? Tips & recommendations
A short history of the Jardin du Luxembourg
At the beginning of the 17th century, Marie de Médicis, widow of King Henri IV, decided to build in what is now the 6th arrondissement of Paris (which was at the time very sparsely populated) a palace inspired by the Pitti Palace in Florence.
To carry out this project – which also included the creation of large formal gardens – she called upon the French architect Salomon de Brosse. The decoration of the palace was entrusted to a plethora of renowned Italian, French and Flemish artists, including none other than Peter Paul Rubens. Some of these paintings are now in the Louvre Museum.
The construction of the palace and gardens began in 1612 and was completed in 1630. The gardens are laid out in a very formal manner, with straight paths, ponds and fountains.
Over the centuries, the Jardin du Luxembourg has undergone many transformations. In 1635, André Le Nôtre, the famous gardener of King Louis XIV, partially redesigned the gardens.
During the Revolution, the Palais du Luxembourg was converted into a prison – where Danton was locked up – and the garden was left abandoned. The lands of the neighboring Chartreux Convent – more than 20 hectares / 50 acres – merged with the Jardin du Luxembourg.
During the Empire, Napoleon I had the garden redesigned as a playground for children, with kiosks and goat carriages!
Under the Second Empire, Baron Haussmann encroached on the gardens for his major urban planning works.
During the Second World War, the Jardin du Luxembourg was requisitioned by the Germans who dug deep blockhouses. It was restored at the Liberation.
💡 Where does the name Jardin du Luxembourg come from? 💡
The Palais du Luxembourg and the Jardin du Luxembourg are named after the Hôtel du Luxembourg, a former mansion on whose site they were built. The latter belonged to François de Piney-Luxembourg, a distant cousin of the House of Luxembourg, which gave its name to the Duchy of Luxembourg.
Visiting the Luxembourg Garden
Nestled in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, the Luxembourg Garden covers no less than 23 hectares between Boulevard Saint-Michel, Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue de Vaugirard.
The garden is divided into two parts:
- The first part consists of the formal gardens, which are laid out in a very formal way, with straight paths, ponds and fountains. This part of the gardens also includes a large lawn, flower beds, topiary trees and bushes, and numerous statues and sculptures.
- The second part of the gardens is more English in style, with winding paths and freer, wilder trees and bushes.
The Jardin du Luxembourg is also home to several emblematic buildings:
The Palais du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Palace)
Built in the early 17th century, the Palais du Luxembourg now houses the Senate. The building is built in the classical style with ashlar. It follows the typical plan of French castles with a main building flanked by two wings. The monumental entrance is topped by a beautiful dome.
Inside the palace, there are numerous reception, work and deliberation rooms, including the Salle des Séances (the hemicycle where the senators sit), the Salle du Livre d’Or, the Chapel, the Conference Room and the magnificent library.
💡 Practical information 💡
The Senate is open to the public during the European Heritage Days, which are held every year on the 3rd weekend of September.
Le Petit Luxembourg
Located west of the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Petit Luxembourg (or Hôtel de la Présidence) is a private mansion built in the 16th century which now houses the residence of the President of the Senate.
Formerly called “Hôtel du Luxembourg”, it is this private mansion that Marie de Médicis acquired in the 17th century to build the Palais du Luxembourg on this domain.
💡 Practical information💡
The Petit Luxembourg can be visited once a year during the European Heritage Days, on the 3rd weekend of September.
The Musée du Luxembourg
Nestled in a wing built perpendicular to the orangery, near rue de Vaugirard, the Musée du Luxembourg houses temporary art exhibitions around three main themes: modernity in the 20th century, photography and women artists.
Located west of the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Orangerie is nestled in a beautiful building built in 1839 following the plans of the architect Alphonse de Gisors.
It is home to about 180 plants including citrus trees (mainly bigaradiers, some of which are 250 to 300 years old!), date palms, oleanders and pomegranates.
The greenhouses of the Jardin du Luxembourg
The greenhouses of the Jardin du Luxembourg are at the same time a place of production of plants for the decoration of the gardens and the palace, but also a place of conservation making it possible to continue to make live a horticultural inheritance dating from the 19th century. The greenhouses are three in number, and house ferns, begonias, and an impressive collection of orchids.
💡 Practical Information💡
Like the Palais du Luxembourg and the Petit Luxembourg, the greenhouses of the Jardin du Luxembourg are open to the public every year during the Heritage Days.
Other points of interest in the Jardin du Luxembourg include:
- An apiary where you can try your hand at beekeeping under the direction of the Central Beekeeping Society
- The Pavillon Davioud, which hosts free public classes of the Luxembourg School of Horticulture as well as art exhibitions
- The former Hôtel de Vendôme, a private mansion built in 1707 which today houses the emblematic École des Mines
Getting to the Jardin du Luxembourg
The Jardin du Luxembourg is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, in the Luxembourg district (between the Latin Quarter, Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Montparnasse), next to the Pantheon.
It is bordered by the boulevard Saint-Michel, the boulevard Saint-Germain and the rue de Vaugirard.
The Jardin du Luxembourg is easily accessible by metro. The closest stations are Luxembourg (RER B), Saint-Sulpice (line 4), Mabillon (line 10) and Rennes (line 12). The garden is also accessible by bus: lines 58, 84, 89, stop Musée du Luxembourg; lines 63, 70, 86, 96 stop Église Saint Sulpice. Hop-on hop-off bus tours also stop near the Jardin du Luxembourg. Find out more here.
The opening hours of the Jardin du Luxembourg vary according to the season. You can find the detailed schedule here.
👉 Skip the lines in Paris: book your tickets and tours in advance!
👉 Looking for advice and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions!
🛏️ Accommodation: Looking for an accommodation in Paris? Good news: there are plenty of options in the French capital. To book your hotel in Paris, Captain Ulysses highly recommends the website Booking.com. From cheap hostels to luxury palaces, you’ll have plenty of options to chose from. As for the localisation, it depends both on your budget and on what you’re looking for. If you can’t afford staying in the most expensive areas of the capital, the Captain recommends that you look for a hotel in the 12th or 13th arrondissements: they’re not as central, but are very well connected to the centre of Paris. The Buttes au Cailles, which looks just like a small village, is one of the Captain’s favourite neighbourhoods in Paris. If you’d rather stay in a chic and sophisticated hotel, here are the best 3 options according to the Captain: the St. James , the Dokhan’s and the Metropolitan .
🎟️ Activities : in order to book skip-the-line tickets, tours and activities in Paris, Captain Ulysses highly recommends GetYourGuide and Civitatis. Guided tours, entrance tickets, cruises, unusual activities: there’s plenty to chose from. If you want to avoid queuing to get into museums and monuments, the Captain suggests opting for skip-the-line tickets.
⛵ City cruises: Can you really visit Paris without going on a cruise on the Seine? The Captain loves sailing on the river and admiring the emblematic monuments of the French capital, especially at nightfall. You will find a large selection of cruises in Paris here.
🎫 City cards : If you’re planning on staying in Paris for a few days, you should definitely consider investing in a city card giving access to the capital’s top museums and landmarks. which includes access to the most famous monuments in Paris.
🚐 Transfers: the parisian airports are located outside the city and getting to the city centre can be quite expensive.
If your budget is tight, the Captain recommends the RATP shuttles that will drop you off at Opera if you’re coming from Roissy airport and at Denfert-Rochereau if you’re coming from Orly airport.
But for a few extra euros, you can book a transfer that will take you directly to your hotel.
If you are traveling in a group, this option is all the more interesting. Find out more here.
🚌 Transports: While you’ll be able to explore part of the city on foot, you will have to use the parisian public transports to explore some of the capital’s landmarks. In order to avoid accumulating (and losing) metro tickets, the Captain recommends opting for an unlimited transport pass. You can buy it directly at in any metro station.
Open tour buses (audioguides included) are also a good option.
If you’d rather explore Paris on a boat, you will love the batobus, a river shuttle on the Seine !
✈️ Flights, trains & buses : Good news: getting to Paris is quite easy! If you’re planning on flying to the capital, the Captain recommends Skyscanner, an online comparator which is perfect for finding the best deals. If your dates are flexible, you can even compare prices over several weeks. Paris is also easily accessible by train and bus. To book your tickets, the Captain highly recommends Omio, which integrates the offer of 207 train and bus companies in 44 countries.