When in Paris, I make it a point to walk through the Tuileries everyday—which is easy to do since it borders many tourist destinations such as the Louvre, D’orsay Museum, shopping and cafes on Rue de Rivoli, Place de la Concorde, La Madeleine and L’orangerie; and it also is a great gateway to many of the main Parisian districts such as the Opera and Champs-Elysses areas; plus, the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe are in splendid view from the gardens and both the Invalides and Rodin Museums are in easy walking distance. In short, the Tuileries is not only a delight in itself, but also a gorgeous central point in Paris to access many other sights.
The actual gardens are both relaxing and inspiring. Even in winter, when the trees are bare, there is an elegance to the layout of this huge and historic public park. First designed in 1564 by Catherine of Medici, based on her homeland gardens in Florence, the Tuileries has been the pet-project of the rulers of France who have each made his or her own mark, including Marie Antoinette who had a special private section of the gardens until the Revolution beheaded her and turned the entire garden into public use; and Napoleon who used the garden for military parades. The gardens have been transformed vastly over its nearly 500 years, but today it still has remnants of its past including the moats of Charles V, Napoleon Bonaparte’s small triumphal arch which is modeled after the arch of Septimius Severus in Rome, wall structures from the Revolution, and centuries of fine sculptures and fountains. The Grand Carre (Large Square with the round water basin in the middle) still maintains its 17th century design and includes 19th century statues. The Grand Couvert (tree area with cafes and Revolution walls) has 20th century sculptures. Finally, the area around the Orangerie has possibly the best of the sculptures, including famous pieces by Rodin such as The Kiss.
Bottom-line: the Tuileries is free art and beauty in central Paris that is well worth a visit and/or daily walk-throughs on the way to other landmarks.
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