The centrally-located Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Gardens) is one of Paris' most visited gardens and one of the most kid-friendly spots in the city. The gardens are located in the 1st arrondissement on the Right Bank and run between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. Catherine de Medicis first imagined the creation of a garden for the Tuileries Palace in 1564 and the design was later completed by André Le Notre who also designed the gardens at Versailles for Louis XIV. The gardens became a public park some time after the French Revolution and the people of Paris have been enjoying them ever since.
We visited the Jardin des Tuileries on the day of our vacation that was the most packed with activities. We began the day at Notre Dame Cathedral and Saint-Chapelle before walking to the Louvre and spending a couple of hours enjoying the collections. After leaving the Louvre, we walked through the gardens on our way to the Champs-Élysée and the Arc de Triomphe. Emma was already quite tired from all the walking that we had been doing so a play in the gardens was a welcome change of pace.
We had been hoping to have an opportunity to sail boats on the ponds in either Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg, however, our March visit seemed to be a little early for boating season as there were none to be rented. A couple of weeks probably would have made a difference as when we arrived on March 10th there wasn't even water in the pond at Jardin du Luxembourg but it had been filled by our last walk-through on March 18th. Fortunately, Emma didn't know what she was missing and we enjoyed walking in the statue-studded formal gardens, admiring the fountains and people-watching as Parisians basked in the lovely spring day.
As in Luxembourg Gardens, there are metal garden chairs available for the use of visitors in the Jardins des Tuileries. Most people seem to congregate around the ponds - reading, chatting, having a snack or just relishing the view.
There are numerous interesting sculptures to see in the gardens, including this one of Diana the Huntress which Emma quite liked.
This whimsical art installation ("Flowers that Bloom at Midnight") by Yayoi Kusama was definitely the most interesting thing we saw in the otherwise formally-designed gardens.
There is a lovely old-fashioned carousel in the gardens which Emma was keen to ride. The panels at the top of the carousel are each painted with charming images of Paris such as the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. There are other children's play areas in the gardens as well as pony rides (which I assume are seasonal as we didn't see any) and from mid-June through August there is a carnival set up on site.
If time had not been short on the day of our stroll in the gardens then we would have included a visit to Musée de l'Orangerie which is in the west end of the garden close to the Seine. This compact museum displays the gigantic paintings of Claude Monet's Water Lilies series on oval walls that were designed to Monet's specifications in order to provide 360 degree views of the artwork. The museum also features the work of a few other impressionist artists. On the terrace of the Orangerie there are sculptures by Auguste Rodin, including Le Baiser (The Kiss) which I would have loved to see. The next time that I'm in Paris this museum will be a priority.
Even though our March visit was in the off-season when the gardens weren't at their peak, they are still a lovely place for a stroll and for kids to burn off steam and get some fresh air, particularly after a museum visit. (My husband also advises that the gardens are a great place for a morning jog.) We had a glimpse of what the Jardin des Tuileries would be like later in the season as it was such a lovely day when we were there, however, I can only imagine how beautiful the gardens would be later in the spring or in the summer with flowers blooming and children sailing boats on the pond. Clearly a return visit is in order so that I can experience the gardens at the peak of their loveliness.
What You Need To Know:
- The Jardin des Tuileries is located on the Right Bank between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde.
- The garden is open daily, however, hours vary by time of year. July/August: 7am-11pm; April-June and September: 7:30am - 9pm; and October - March: 7:30am-7:30pm.
- Walking on the grass is strictly forbidden (Pelouse Interdite) in many French gardens including this one.
- The Musée de l'Orangerie is closed on Tuesdays.
- A ride on the Carousel costs 2.5 Euros.
- There are snack bars and drink stands scattered around the park and there is a café near the centre of the park.
- Toilets are located by the Place de la Concorde entrance.
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