Jardin des Tuileries

Jardin des Tuileries (20)

Catherine de Medicis Queen of France and wife of Henry II was famous for being rather fanciful. But thanks to her fancies, Paris possesses among its jewels the Tuileries Gardens, the oldest in the city and the first open to the public.

The name of the palace that accompanied the gardens comes from the fact that on this spot there had been some tile factories, called “tuiles” in French. It was around 1564 when Catherine de Medicis gave the order to start work on the Tuileries Palace. The queen paid a great deal of attention to the gardens, which had to be in Florentine style, since she was born in the Italian city of Florence. And to recreate the view she wanted there to be lots of fountains and sculptures, an orchard, a vineyard, fruit trees and even a maze to get lost in.

These gardens were the stage for grand receptions and luxurious parties. At that time, they were for the personal use and enjoyment of the queen. To avoid gatecrashers and curious onlookers she had the gardens surrounded by some high walls. 

In 1664 they were converted into public gardens, although in reality access was not available to everyone. Only the feet of the members of high society could step onto these grounds. It was Louis XIV who got to work on the task at hand and entrusted André Le Nôtre to produce a new design for the gardens, which thus became the first public gardens in Paris. Among the new species that were planted were the horse chestnut trees, maple trees, cypresses and elms. Many statues were added with the remodelling. In spring it was common to see a large number of tulips and carnations. Another new element was water. With the passing of time, between the avenues of the gardens ponds were placed. The first to be added was the large round lake. Later came the two smaller ones and the last one to be added was the octagonal lake in the western part.

The Tuileries Palace was abandoned when the Court moved to Versailles. From then on, only maintenance work was carried out. Only when the Court returned in 1715 did the gardens recover their splendour.

The Republicans established their power centre here during the time of the Revolution, and it was when the gardens suffered their most dramatic changes. From being Italian-style it became an English-style garden. The grass became the main element and the plant pots were replaced by trees. However, some supporters of revolutionary extremism were against any sign of luxury and ostentation so they proposed that the land be used as an orchard. Those in favour of preserving it as a garden finally won the day and wanted to decorate it more with porticoes and vestibules. In the end, neither one thing nor the other.

At the end of the 18th century the garden was clearly neoclassical, full of classical statues restored and confiscated from the nobility. At that time the citric trees dominated the garden. The flowers that blossomed from them were auctioned off. The parties returned to liven up the gardens and continued to be an exclusive spot to which not everyone had access. Napoleon also wanted to leave his mark here and wanted to join it to the Louvre Palace. For this he had the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel built.

In 1862 the Jeu de Paume was built, a space dedicated to a game that could be the precursor of tennis. Long before becoming the tennis capital with the Roland Garros tournament, Paris showed promise.

In 1870 the revolutionary events affected the palace, which was destroyed in a fire. It was decided not to rebuild it. And towards the end of the century, the gardens recovered their public character, where important social events were held, such as the “Motor Show”, and celebrations of important dates. The world wars seriously affected the state of the garden, which had to be restored again to recover all its beauty.

Coinciding with the bicentenary of the Revolution, in 1989, the Tuileries Gardens were definitively consecrated as a place for relaxation and walking. And now you can enjoy it.                

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