Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.
The beauty of Paris in the spring is heightened by the magnificence of the parks and gardens in bloom around the city. One of the most pleasurable activities you can experience is a stroll through one of the parks and settling yourself on a chair to enjoy.
The quintessential Parisian park, Luxembourg Gardens is one of the most beautiful and visited parks in Paris. The original gardens were an extension of a Florentine style palace built in 1611 for Maria de Medici, the widow of King Henry IV.
Situated on 55 acres in the heart of the St. Germain area of Paris, the gardens include a formal garden in the center, a pond to float toy sailboats, which are available to rent, tennis courts, a marionette theater, a carousel, pony rides for children, cafes, a gazebo for musical performances, and most unusual of all, a bee apiary. The gardens also contain a statuary of over 100 sculptures including figures of writers, artists, historical figures, and special section with the Queens of France.
The centerpiece of the gardens is the Medici Fountain, a quiet oasis that resembles an Italian grotto featuring statues from Greek mythology.
World renowned for its magnificent rosebushes with over 1,200 varieties, the Bagatelle Gardens has run an annual rose contest since 1907. Part of the largest park in Paris, the Bois de Boulogne, the Bagatelle Gardens have an adjoining neoclassical Chateau built as hunting lodge in 1720. Built on a dare and wager by Marie Antoinette, the chateau was constructed in a record time period of three months and owned by Comte d’Artois, brother of Louis XV.
In later years, the chateau was acquired by the city of Paris in 1905 and the gardens were created by Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, the Commissioner of Gardens for the city of Paris.
Every June and July the chateau hosts a series of Chopin concerts.
One of the most beloved parks in Paris, The Tuileries was also the grounds for an historic royal palace. After the death of her husband Henry II in 1559, Catherine De Medici started to build Tuileries Palace in 1564. In 1660 under the reign of Louis XIV, Andre Le Notre, who also designed the classic gardens of Versailles, redesigned the gardens. During the Paris Commune in 1870, the palace was burned down and all that remains today are the gardens and two structures, The Orangerie, which now houses the magnificent Monet water lily paintings, and the Jeu de Paume museum of photography.
Today The Tuileries features attractions such as restaurants and cafes, sailboat rentals, ice cream stands, sculpture gardens, and twice a year a tent is setup for Fashion Week shows. In summer the gardens host am amusement park with rides including a Ferris wheel, a Fun House, a carousel, games of chance, and cotton candy.