The largest and most famed park in Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg is as much a part of the daily routines of left bank Parisians today as it was in the 19th century, when it was first opened to the public. Its aluminum chairs and sail boat strewn center pool invite lingering weekday lunches and long Saturday strolls. It’s one of the few places in Paris where you might see joggers—often curiously equipped—huffing past its numerous fountains and sculptures. Students loiter around the perimeter, smoking cigarettes and picking up passersby, an activity that in recent years has earned the park the cheeky moniker La Drague Verte.
Expats have been consistently drawn to the Jardin du Luxembourg, from Gertrude Stein to George Orwell, to more recently Adam Gopnick—who fondly reported on the swells of children’s laughter that pour from its playgrounds and puppet theater in his much-loved New Yorker column. Things have not always been so carefree in St. Germain’s backyard, though: Picasso made a point of traversing its dusty perpendicular thoroughfares to hunt pigeons during his early years of penury, and livestock were left to graze its "pastures’ during the chaotic exodus of Paris in June of 1940.
Once the residence of Henri IV’s conniving wife Marie de Médicis, the 17th century Palais du Luxembourg, just opposite the central pool, now houses the French Senate.