Jardin du Luxembourg
Yesterday we took a breather, relaxing in our peaceful garden cottage the entire day. We both felt the need to recharge our batteries, so to speak, as we enter the home stretch of our 77-day odyssey. Late in the afternoon, we had a very interesting and enjoyable tête-à-tête with our charming hostess, Dominique, as she sat on the back porch of her home. Her English-speaking ability is far better than she's willing to admit, and it soon became clear to us that she is a well-educated, independent and gracious woman who has led a very full and active life.
As it turns out, she is 82-years-old, worked as an architect before she retired, while her deceased husband was an artist; in fact, the guest cottage in which we are staying was originally designed and built as a studio for his use. Dominique has one son and a daughter, who is the mother of the 18-year-old granddaughter we met the day we went to the market. We also discovered that she is scheduled for hip replacement surgery just a few days before our departure!
Today our plan was to visit the Luxembourg Garden, which has always been one of our
favorite places in Paris, because it is simply a magnificent venue. It was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, when she decided to build a palace in imitation of the Pitti Palace in her native Florence. The garden today is owned by the French Senate, which conducts its business in the Luxembourg Palace.
The garden area covers almost 60 acres, and is famous for its manicured lawns, tree-lined promenades, flowerbeds, model sailboats in its octagonal-shaped water basin, and the picturesque Medici Fountain, which was built around 1630. The garden also contains just over a hundred statues, monuments, and fountains, scattered throughout the grounds. Surrounding the central green space are twenty figures of French queens and illustrious women standing on pedestals.
Once again, the weather conditions today were ideal, with mild temperatures, blue skies and a refreshing breeze. We left our cottage by 10:30 this morning, walked to the #58 bus stop we had located a couple days ago, and then arrived at the western entrance to the Jardin du Luxembourg shortly after 11 o'clock. When we reached the octagonal basin, we were surprised and disappointed that the colorful
array of flowers, which normally adorn the numerous beds in the central part of the garden, were nowhere to be seen! Instead, crews of gardeners were at work tilling the soil in preparation for planting what must be hundreds (if not thousands) of annuals in the coming days.
As we approached the eastern side of the garden, we noticed that the authentic outdoor bistro, where we had enjoyed so many memorable lunches during past visits to the garden, was gone. In its place we found a contemporary-styled eatery, La Terrasse de Madame, that had all the charm of a chainstore outlet! After briefly considering walking to a nearby restaurant or brasserie outside the garden, we decided to give the place a try for lunch.
Shortly after being seated at a table for two on the terrace, Dee fell victim to some flying bird crap that landed on her menu, even though we were seated under a large umbrella! Despite this rather inauspicious start, we proceeded to order our lunches. Dee ordered quiche provençal, with a limoncello spritzer (she's hooked on this drink!). I tried the fish and chips platter, along with a glass of wine. Somewhat to our
Chris, eat your heart out!
Crème brûlée for dessert at La Terrasse de Madame, Jardin du Luxembourg.
surprise, our meals were quite tasty, and the service quick and efficient. However, the pièce de résistance
was the giant-sized serving of crème brûlée
we shared for dessert, which was simply delicious!
When we finished our lunches, Dee paid a visit to "Madame Pee-Pee", the public facility next to the restaurant, where for many years a matron has collected a small fee to use the toilette. Over the years, we had spent perhaps the equivalent of 20 or 30 cents to use the facilities, but in today's world the charge is 1 euro ($1.10), which is one pretty costly "pee-pee"! Fortunately, the waitress at the restaurant had given Dee a token, which allowed her a free "pee-pee" today.
After lunch we sat down near the gazebo where an orchestra, composed of young French children from a local school, was providing musical entertainment for an appreciative audience of visitors to the garden. On our way toward the northern exit of the garden, we made a brief stop at the Medici Fountain, where many people were relaxing in chairs beside the fountain. The reflections cast upon the water of this picturesque fountain by the sun's rays at this time
of day were especially stunning.
We exited the northern part of the garden onto the rue de Vaugirard, and spotted the bus stop for the return ride to Porte de Vanves, close to the metro station. I was a bit disoriented, but Dee quickly found our way to the site of the flea market we had visited a few days ago, adjacent to the metro station, where we began our slow trek across the Pont de La Vallée back to our apartment.
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