Jardin du Luxembourg was shared from a different perspective as I toured with Entrée to Black Paris Tours. I never tire of visiting Paris, yet this time I am purposely pausing to discover different perspectives on what there is to enjoy here. Usually, I am on a mission to discover gardens, but my friend Monique Wells, co-founder of Discover Paris! Entree to Black Paris Tours and co-author of Paris Reflections: Walks Through African American Paris (with Christiann Anderson) had this tour listed on her website. In addition to a long line of other accomplishments, Monique Wells is now the U.S. Ambassador for the Academie de l’Art Culinaire du Monde Creole. I took Monique’s word that I might enjoy this tour and I am glad I did.
My tour guide was Tom Reeves, author of the 2nd Edition and newly expanded Dining Out in Paris and co-founder of Discover Paris! Tom’s perspective on Jardin du Luxembourg and the area surrounding it, was more in-depth and significant than where Marius and Cosette met in Les Miserables. Tom started shared a bit of the historical perspective of the Jardin du Luxembourg and its surroundings.
The great appreciation I have for Marie de Medicis, the widow of King Henry IV of France is as powerful as the sense of peace and tranquility I have when I enter the grounds. Marie de Medicis tried to recreate her memories of growing up and experiencing the beauty of gardens, such as the Boboli Gardens in Italy. As her son grew up and became the next King, she was banished, left the Palace, as well as the gardens and wandered throughout Europe. Never settling, I feel as though she was seeking the beauty of the many gardens in the world…..but that is just my perspective.
Found in the 6th Arrondissement and Metro accessible, one could spend hours wandering through this vast Park. I can only imagine how painters, writers, and performers of color such as Chester Himes, Richard Wright, Felix Eboue found peace as they spent time in and around these gardens.
Sharing the significance of places such as the Pantheon, the Odeon Theater and more, Tom did not disappoint as he shared history I was simply not aware of. Tom Reeves research and perspective of The Black History of Jardin du Luxembourg and the area surrounding it, left me yearning for more.
Pointing out the greenhouse where the beautiful potted trees I saw last year in their summer bloom are housed during the winter months, was the tip of the iceberg for me. According to Tom Reeves, some of those same trees, or descendants thereof, that Henry O. Tanner had enjoyed or that Richard Wright and his family strolled under, are still alive and cared for today. The Black history shared, the statuary that keeps eyes on the gardens and the people who enjoy it daily, truly speak to the importance and the enjoyment of the beauty that surrounds us in so many ways. I could not leave the area without dining where some of the great men and women of color had dined in the back room as they shared ideas and felt more than welcomed in this foreign land, The Cafe Tournon. With an American coffee (I called it a large cup of warm, delicious jet fuel) the salad with ham, eggs, pickled vegetables and a dash of dressing, was all I needed to continue my journey. The two hours shared with Tom Reeves and my small group was not just food for my soul, but just enough substance to encourage me to discover more about Paris than the gardens, the fabric, and the fashion – I urge anyone visiting Paris to use Discover Paris-Tours. Last year I was blessed to enjoy Jardin du Luxembourg in its summer glory, I was not aware of whose footsteps I was walking in as well. With 3 plantings a year, courtesy of the French Senate, the grounds are just as beautiful in their winter nakedness and give way to the anticipation of Spring.
Thank you, Monique & Tom, for an enlightening, educational and enjoyable morning in Paris!!!
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