One of the best things about living in the 6th arrondissement is the Luxembourg Gardens. The Luxembourg Gardens were a ten-minute walk from the small boutique hotel we stayed in. For several afternoons, we ended our action-packed days lounging on comfortable park benches. The park was full of Parisians of various ages enjoying the sun, watching people, eating ice cream, and watching birds.
A lovely public garden or park in my neighborhood would add greatly to life in the city. Green 2015, an independent study commissioned by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, founded that one in eight city residents do not have access to a public green space within a ten-minute walk from home. That means over 200,000 people in various areas of the city. I know that some of the “newer” sections of the city, including mine, lack a public park. My neighborhood was incorporated into the city from three farming communities in the 1920s. The Mayor’s plan here in Philadelphia is to add 500 new acres of public green space to the city by 2015.
The Parisian residents of the 6th arrondissements I met, were very proud of the beautiful well-cared for Luxembourg Gardens. It is considered one of the most beautiful parks in Paris. I actually chose our hotel because of its close proximity to the park. I have chosen hotels in other cities based on the closeness of a public park.
The Luxembourg Gardens are also the site of an open secret; the French ‘CIA’ has its headquarters underneath the Luxembourg Palace in the park. The Palace was a former royal residence. The gendarmes (French national police) don’t let anyone get too close to the building. The police presence is heavy. It is necessary in just about any urban park in the world. The serious city police officers patrol the park all day. I felt safe with them around. The park gates are closed at sunset.
Paris Lesson: Green spaces add to the quality of life of area residents. Green natural spaces are calming and stress-reducing. And if those parks and public spaces are planted with mostly native trees and plants, birds, butterflies, and other native animals should take up residence.
I kept imagining how relaxing it would be to have a lovely, well-cared for a public park to walk to after dinner or a stressful day at work. Would your neighborhood or town benefit from a public park?
The Luxembourg Gardens Visitor Site (in French)
Luxembourg Gardens Photo Gallery
More Lessons from Paris, France
Paris Lessons: Versailles, the Ultimate McMansion
Paris Lessons: Street Trees and Strolling in the Shade
Paris Lessons: Bikes, Trains and Automobiles
Paris Lessons: How to Make a Liveable City
Lovely, Donna. I like your idea of city parks planted with native plants to attract native wildlife. Sadly, many parks are planted with exotics. I hope the mayor of Philadelphia will achieve his green space goal this year.
There are new parks created regularly. I am glad Mayor Nutter even thought of the idea. The natural areas of Philadelphia parks by city ordinance must use local native species in habitat restoration or re-plantings. I have seen many native plants in the parks and public gardens. I do hope that trend continues.
Happy New Year,