Jardin du Luxembourg: Fontaine Médicis!

Ok folks lets go into higher gears in my eternal Paris. As said, a blog on its own should be more fitting but will give briefs on the wonderful things to see and do here, already with many many posts on Paris, the city I have great memories of working there while living nearby and now still visiting.

One of the places that is a must to go in Paris is the Jardin du  Luxembourg  , wonderful spots spent many afternoons with my boys there. Therefore, let me tell you about what we found best there, and I meant just the best for us. And why not start with the Fontaine Médicis.

Now, this one is world popular and heavily visited even in visited Jardin du Luxembourg; however, it is worth a look as we walk this wonderful garden. The Medicis fountain is unique in the garden.

The Fontaine Médicis fountain as the world knows is in the Jardin du Luxembourg garden. It was earlier called the cave de Luxembourg! Its construction, around 1630, was commissioned by Queen Marie de Médicis, widow of Henri IV, around the Luxembourg Palace which she had it built. Marie de Médicis wanted to install numerous caves, fountains, pools and terraces with games of water, in order to rediscover the architectural atmosphere of the nymphs of her childhood, such as the cave of Buontalenti in Florence. This fountain is the only vestige of this type of construction ordered by the Queen.

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More than a cave, it is a facade 14 meters high and 12 meters wide, intended to hide the buildings on Rue d’Enfer, near which it was located. It includes three niches, separated by four columns of Tuscan style. A pediment decorated with the arms of France and the Medicis overhangs it, and framed by two lying allegorical figures, the Rhone and the Seine rivers. From the 17C to the beginning of the 19C, the pool located in front of the central cave does not include water games The cave is initially installed to the east of the Luxembourg garden, in the perspective of the alley between the Porte des Carmes and the Rue d’Enfer, thus skirting the south facade of the palace.

Like the Luxembourg Palace, the garden was rearranged after the Senate was installed in its walls in 1799. The arms of Henri IV and the Medicis were removed and, in the central niche, a small marble statue of Venus was placed. Finally, the small pool is now fed by a waterfall located under the statue. What was then only an Italian style portico becomes a fountain. In the 1850s, the walls that extended the cave on each side were demolish In the early 1860s, the fountain was moved, following the drilling of the rue de Médicis, carried out as part of the urban planning work of the prefect Haussmann in Paris ,the Medicis fountain was dismantled stone by stone in 1862 and brought closer to the palace by around thirty meters. The arms of France re-established, and built a basin fifty meters long, the railing of which is decorated with basins; two rows of plane trees line the basin. The statuary is also renovated in the central niche, the statue of Venus is replaced by a group of three mythological characters entitled Polyphemus surprising Galatea in the arms of Acis, Polyphemus, legendary cyclops, is in love with Galatea, young and beautiful sea nymph. Crouching on a rock, an animal skin on its back, it observes Galatea in the arms of Acis, ready to kill its rival with a rock The couple is languidly lying at the edge of the water. The contrast is striking between the enormous and dark mass of the cyclops and the whiteness of the pair of two young people. In addition, the very shape of the basin provides the illusion that the body of water is tilted. In the side niches are placed two statues of fauna and hunting. The rear facade of the fountain is also redeveloped alongside the Léda fountain, formerly located at the corner of rue du Regard and rue du Vaugirard, removed by the drilling of rue de Rennes. This second fountain includes a bas-relief made in 1807; and it is surmounted by a half-couple and a pediment, on which are lying two statues of naiads.

Ok so that is the description from an architecture point of view that I like. Like said, the Médicis fountain is very popular. The quickest entrance to it is by the Place Edmond Rostang  off rue de Médicis  with the water fountain on your back and can see the Panthéon. The legend of these unfortunate lovers was very famous in the 17C. In 1686, Jean-Baptiste Lully composed the opera Acis et Galatée. This grandiose pastoral was performed for the first time in front of the Grand Dauphin, son of Louis XIV. In many mythologies, the fountain is linked to the cult of trees, mysterious waters and sacred stones. A territory domesticated by man, it is also a door to the invisible. The Medici Fountain is a place of rest and romantic stroll appreciated by all. Everything seems magic: the plane trees with green gold foliage which are reflected in the water, the colorful fish, the shimmers and shadows, the voluptuous gestures of lovers whose marble skin is sometimes so alive ; it can be magical!

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The Senate of France on the Fontaine Médicis in French: Senat de France on Fontaine Médicis

The tourist office of Paris on the jardin du Luxembourg in English: Tourist office of Paris on the Jardin du Luxembourg

Near the porte Edmond Rostang we have enjoyed coffees ices at Amorino Soufflot on way to the Panthéon (see post). Also, the Columbus Café a nice spot by rue Soufflot. For a full meal we had Le Choupinet on bd St Michel very nice. Enjoy it!

This is the magic of Paris, always Paris. The Jardin du Luxembourg is an integral part of this dream city, the most beautiful in the world. In the center of it all, we have the Medici fountain;: hope you enjoy the tour.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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