Last Updated on 23rd October 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
The largest park within intra muros Paris is that of the Jardin des Tuileries, a delightful garden so-called because it was once the site of a tile factory. Wonderful to visit all year ’round, the green space is ever popular among tourists and locals alike. Here’s a guide to the Jardin des Tuileries, as well as a history, and things to know before you go.
Before visiting Paris, you should know that Paris is in stark contrast with other European capitals, such as London or Florence, in that is often said that there are fewer green spaces to enjoy. While this may have some truth to it, the parks and gardens there are available to discover are all simply magical and are the perfect spots to enjoy a Parisian pastime:
A history of Jardin des Tuileries
The Jardin des Tuileries was originally created by Catherine de’ Medici in 1564 to serve as a garden for the now-demolished Tuileries Palace. Just over a century later, in 1667, the garden was opened to the public. Following the French Revolution at the end of the 18th-century, the space was officially designated a public park.
How to visit Jardin des Tuileries
Unlike parks in other places in Europe, nearly every Parisian park and garden has an opening and closing time, which typically mirrors the sunrise and sunset times across the year. The Jardin des Tuileries is located in the 1st arrondissement of the city and is open from the following times (park wardens start telling people to leave the park around 30 minutes before closing time):
Last sunday of September to the last Saturday of March: every day, 7h30-19h30.
Last Sunday or March to the last Saturday of December: every day, 7h-21h
June, July & August: 7h-23h.
Things to know before visiting the Tuileries Gardens
The Tuileries can be found sandwiched between the ever-so-famous rue de Rivoli and the sweeping river Seine. Shaped like a long rectangle, on one end of the gardens you’ll find Place de la Concorde (which was where many a famous executions took place during the French Revolution) and the Louvre Museum (which is the largest art museum in the world).
One of the prettiest times of the year to visit is during the autumn when the fall leaves change colour and the days are fresh and crisp, meaning that you’ll want to do nothing more than grab a chocolat chaud to go (I highly recommend the Lindt hot chocolate) and sit on one of the little green chairs which are scattered across the park.
Visitors should note that all the grass areas of the Tuileries are off-limits to the public (how else do you think they keep the lawns looking so fresh and healthy?!), though picnics are, of course, allowed on the benches and chairs which are found throughout the gardens. You’re allowed to move the chairs about!
Highlights of the Jardin des Tuileries
Throughout the year, several annual events take place in the gardens, as well as ever-changing floral borders you can enjoy. I particularly love that the flower borders are so well-kept, with red and orange selections, as well as more summer-themed pink and purple displays during the warmer months of the year.
Jardin des Tuileries Carousel
Close to the Louvre Museum and in the very heart of Jardin des Tuileries, Paris’ answer to New York’s Central Park, the merry go round in Jardin des Tuileries is one of the most beautiful in the Île de France region. Traditional in decor, the Parisian manège features wooden horses and upper panels of French rural life (including dancing scenes).
Jardin des Tuileries funfair
The Jardin des Tuileries funfair takes place each year during the summer months. The fairground cane be found in a small corner of Jardin des Tuileries near the Tuileries metro stop, meaning that it’s incredibly easy to access.
Popular with locals and tourists alike, it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon or evening in the City of Light. You can purchase sweet treats like candy floss as big as your face (known as la Barbe à Papa in French- literally ‘Papa’s Beard’), try your luck at winning giant plush toys or test your stomach tenacity on some of the scarier rides.
Jardin des Tuileries Christmas Market
If you’re looking for a winter warmer during December, then the Jardin des Tuileries Christmas market is well worth a wander through. Faux snow and all the vin chaud, if you want to visit a Christmas market in the heart of the city, then the Jardin des Tuileries Christmas Market in Paris is the largest winter fair in the French capital. Home to over a hundred wooden style chalets, this festive fair is known as La Magie de Noël (The Magic of Christmas).
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
Many visitors to the city don’t know this, but there are actually four historic triumphal arches in Paris, one of which is the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. Situated at the end of the Jardin des Tuileries on the side closest to the Louvre, the arc is based on the arch of Constantine in Rome (built in the 4th century CE) and stands at 19 metres in height.
Like many other artworks in Paris, the four bronze horses originally in situ were taken by Napoleon from St Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy. However, these gold gilt horses were returned to Venice in 1815 and following the battle of Waterloo. François Joseph Bosio created four replica horses, which were installed in 1828.
Hands down one of the best museums in Paris, the Orangerie is situated in the heart of Jardin des Tuileries and is home to Monet’s iconic waterlilies (which were created specifically for the space). The building was originally constructed in the 1850s to house the orange trees of the Tuileries garden, hence its name.
During the Third Republic, the structure was then used for a variety of things, including as an examination room, and as a place where soldiers could stay. Now, the Orangery Museum houses treasures such as works by Picasso, Renoir, and Rousseau.