Last updated on September 21st, 2017
A historic city park in the Latin Quarter
Today, I have my little ones and their friends for the afternoon. Four children from barely walking little girl to full of energy running boys. We’re spending time outdoors in one of Paris’ most popular parks.
The Luxembourg Garden (Jardin du Luxembourg), located in the Latin Quarter, is one of two city parks (or green lungs) in the area, the other being the Jardin des Plantes.
The Jardin du Luxembourg is a respectable 23 hectares in the heart of Paris. Created in 1612 by Queen Marie de Médicis, the garden is sometimes known by Parisians as “Luco” or “Luxembourg”. So when a local asks to meet at the Luxembourg, he doesn’t mean the country!
Young King Louis XIII used to hunt wild boar piglets in the Luxembourg. But today, no hunting for my tribe of piglets, I’m taking them sailing. Yes, sailing in the Jardin du Luxembourg, in the 6th district of Paris.
Keeping your children busy at the Garden of Luxembourg
There’s a lot to do and see at the Luxembourg.
Plenty of history, with the beautiful Luxembourg Palace, that houses the French Senate, plenty of playgrounds for children, puppet shows, public tennis courts, pony rides, grass where you can rest, chairs where you can laze, greenhouses, a museum and art gallery, rotating open air photo expos, sculptures, refreshments and snacks, cafes, concerts etc. And of course, old trees, plants, bees, birds!
If anything the kids can always run around!
Pirate ship and flags of the world
Ahoy! Head straight for the central pond (“bassin central”) with your eager crew. You’ll have to go down a few steps, but look to the left and right of the oval for easier access for prams and wheelchairs.
The central pond of the Luxembourg Garden is where budding sailors and pirates meet to race wooden model ships. A few people bring their own toys, but most rent traditional sail boats from the mysterious man. He appears every spring and disappears as the cold weather sets in.
You can’t miss the mysterious man. L’homme des mystères, l’homme mystérieux (not sure he’s aware that the kids call him that). Sometimes he’s a young fella, sometimes he’s an old sea dog (wearing a sea jacket in the middle of summer).
For a few euros, he’ll let the kids play with his collection of wooden sailboats. Each boat proudly sports a country flag: France, Brazil, Japan… And one has the dreaded black flag, complete with skull and crossbones. There’ll be a bit of scuffling as the kids will obviously all want the same flag, but in the end they’ll be happy!
Don’t forget the wooden stick that comes with the boat!
Relaxing or running after kids and boats?
Now, sailing at the Luxembourg Garden consists of putting the model sailboat in the central pond, giving it a shove and watching it elegantly glide along prevailing winds.
Sometimes the boats get stuck in the duck house in the middle of the basin, but don’t worry, a breeze with soon free it, hopefully before the kids start crying… The ducks occasionally get annoyed, but they’ve learned that the boats are harmless.
Run after your boat as it drifts towards the edge of the pond (usually at the far end of where it started its journey). Use the wooden stick to catch the boat or push it away. Run again!
With one child, it’s usually quite tiring even if you’re in decent shape. With four children, it’s far from a relaxing experience, as the boats could end at opposite sides of the relatively large pond!
But in the end, the children will have spent their excess energy and had a wonderful time. Hopefully the evening will be more quiet…
Kids still full of beans? Check out our Paris Top 5 Spots with Kids on the Cheap!