A Regal Run: Loping Through The Luxembourg
By Theadora Brack
This week, for just one moment, let’s take a brief break from the news cycle and go for a jog in the park.
Personally, I can’t think of a finer way to re-charge and experience the City of Light’s past and present than kicking down the old cobblestone rues.
As writer George Sand once wrote, “Don’t jibe at the very wise advice that sentences you to one hour’s walk a day. You imagine the work of the mind takes place only in the brain; but you’re much mistaken. It takes place in the legs as well.”
I completely agree.
So grab the baton and get stepping in my favorite Paris park: le Jardin du Luxembourg. Created with a Florentine twist by Queen Marie de Médici and gardening theorist Jacques Boyceau during the 17th century, it opened to the public in 1778.
Here, I’m not only able to run, but also mingle with the statues of French queens, saints, big cats, and writers. I’m hardly a martyr, or a monarch or a literary giant (yet!), but up my black Lycra sleeve I do have a few tips for a picture-perfect storybook run.
I recommend the Notre-Dames-des-Champs Métro stop. When you surface, take rue Notre-Dames-des-Champs a few blocks to rue Vavin. At the intersection, the park will be on your left, and on the right, you’ll spot one of the centuries-old Wallace water fountains. The water is free and tasty, so refill your bottle before and after your fast trot.
Next to the Wallace fountain is the Pharmacie Vavin (18 rue Vavin). Here you can buy contact solution, eye-drops, and contact lens cases, along with bandages, Ibuprofen, and the almighty important sunscreen.
Even if you’re in the pink of health, don’t leave Paris without stopping by a pharmacy. Their shelves are stocked with plant-based soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, crèmes, and cosmetics. Most pharmacists speak English. They’ll not only take the time to listen, but they can also recommend a product for almost any malady, whatever it may be.
There are several restrooms in Luxembourg. Find one of the many posted park maps, and then take flight to the nearest sanitaire. There is a 75-cent fee, so pack a few coins (fee subject to change. Sometimes life gets you coming and going. It’s true.) Also, you’ll find drinking water fountains throughout the park.
Each loop around the perimeter of the park is about 2 kilometers. Forget your watch? There’s a clock on top of the Palaïs du Luxembourg. Arrive early in the morning, for this place is a stroller-magnet—in both senses of the word. On the flipside, it’s a prime people-watching spot.
Shade. With its hideaways and fountains, Luxembourg has always felt like an enchanted forest. Here there are more backdrops for photo-ops than you can shake a selfie stick at, so pack your camera. Keep your eyes peeled for Bartholdi’s original Statue of Liberty prototype, along with the Medici Fountain, the Grand Bassin pond, and a carousel designed by Opéra architect Charles Garnier.
A story I often tell: Years before Hemingway could afford to shoot lions in Africa, he hunted urban birdlife here by the Médici Fountain. Back in his salad days, Luxembourg was known for its voluptuous pigeons.
Hemingway wrote, “We got a little tired of pigeon that winter but they filled many a void.”
But if you’re feeling hunger pangs after your run, don’t worry about having to take an urban safari. There are snack shacks throughout the park. How do I know? A well-fed, plump birdie told me so.
Feeling all preachy-preachy
I’ll close with a few more wise words by George Sand: “Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give it without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.”
Carpe diem! Be strong. Be invincible. And don’t forget to vote.