We were passing through Paris in 2011 on the way to other parts of France and Europe but we booked ourselves into an apartment in the Marais district for a few days and used it as base for walking the streets and gardens of Paris. On one of these days, we packed our morning tea and decided to go and picnic in the Tuileries Garden.

The best way to illustrate the significance of the Tuileries Gardens is from overhead. The image to the right is part of a lithograph image published in 1878 at the time of the World’s Fair of that year. The image was used in a poster to advertise ‘balloon ascensions’ from the carousel in front of the ruins of the old palace that had been burnt down 7 years earlier at the end of the Paris Commune. The remains of the Palace were cleared away a few years later to reveal the view of the ‘Axe Historique’, the line of sight available from the Louvre all the way up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe. The Tuileries Gardens begins at the raised area which is all that is left of the old palace and continues through fabulous gardens, fountains and sculptures until it arrives at the historic Place de la Concorde. The photo below takes the reverse view of the garden showing the Allee Central leading the eye down to the front of the Louvre Palace.

On the morning of our picnic in these gardens, we found a spot in the sun not far from the river to consume our coffee and cake while all the time appreciating the view in this central landscape of Paris. Morning tea finished, we then strolled down the left-hand side of the gardens, continuously encountering sculptures all the way. The first sculpture we encountered was a statue of Julius Caesar, probably appropriate for this area as he was the Roman General who wrote about what became known as Il de Le Cite over 2000 years ago. Some of the other statues found in the garden came from the old Palais de Tuileries, or are a replica of them. The statue in the centre below is of ‘Theseus encountering the Minotaur’ by Etienne-Jules Ramey (1793-1852). The sculpture on the right is “Cassandre puts himself under the protection of Pallas” (1877, by Aimé Millet).

On the morning of our walk through the Tuileries Garden, by the time we arrived at the Octagonal Basin towards the end of the main pathway, Parisians had crowded to the edge of this plaza with chairs and children to enjoy a morning sunning themselves and sailing boats on the fountain. It was cheerful spot to pay farewell to this famous garden along the ‘Historical Axis’ of Paris.


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