In his wonderful book Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik returns over and over again to the Luxembourg Gardens. And with good reason: This park is one of Paris’ most beautiful, most popular public spaces.
Esteban and I ended up there today by default. We’d planned on getting out of town — maybe to Chartres, or Strasbourg — but we weren’t motivated enough to get out the door early and onto a train.
Plan B consisted of an aimless walk through our neighborhood. I loved spotting one of the old street signs I’ve been photographing all over Paris, along with another addition to my “cool menu handwriting” collection.
I also enjoyed gawking at the gorgeous architectural details that adorn almost every apartment building. I wonder if the residents even notice them?
But the highlight of my day was seeing the Luxembourg Gardens again. I was delighted to find some color still clinging to the trees and planters.
But a few other parts of the grounds seemed barren already, as if winter had tiptoed in when no one was looking. Even the statues looked a little bit subdued.
In spite of the gray skies and intermittent rain, though, the people-watching was as good as ever.
At one point I suddenly remembered my “100 inconnus à Paris” project. I approached a group of officers who were chatting nearby.
“I’m trying to photograph 100 strangers before I leave Paris,” I told them as I decided whom to shoot. “I haven’t photographed a cop yet, so would you be willing to oblige?”
“We’re not cops,” said my intended victim. “Well … whatever you are, I haven’t shot one of you yet. Would you mind terribly?” He didn’t mind at all. In fact, he turned out to be a bit of a ham. Merci, monsieur.
On our way out of the park we accidentally stumbled across the apiary. Having a bee colony in the middle of an urban park is rare. Offering the public courses in beekeeping? Extraordinary. Alas, today the bees were asleep.
On our way to the gate, we made one final stop to look at the braille map of the park. I wondered how anyone would be able to “see” this map with their fingers and keep it in their head long enough to navigate the grounds.
As we exited the gate, I found it hard to believe we’d spent three hours languishing in this park. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon in Paris, we agreed.
Tomorrow will be Esteban’s and my last day in Paris. I’m heartbroken to have to leave and have already cried my first farewell tears.
One last time: À demain, mes amis.