The exquisite Luxembourg gardens are among the most visited and loved formal French gardens. In the 17th century, they were the private property of the royalty. Now they are swarming with locals and tourists alike. That is what makes the idea of having the gardens all to yourself so enticing. What a privilege that would be! What a rare luxury!
What would you do for such an experience? How much would you pay? What club would you be prepared to join? Who would you need to know? How much of this blog entry would you read?
I do indeed hold the secret. To experience the gardens privately, you just have to show up at opening time. I can attest to this. Nobody is there waiting at the gates, and the gatekeeper is busy moving from gate to gate, so you won't even see him inside the park. You are free to wander. There are thousands of park chairs and recliners, all for you. Remarkably, nobody else seems to have had the same idea.
Because you will meet nobody, your attention will shift to the statues who have none other to watch than you. A host of Greek mythological figures you had never noticed before: Narcissus, Theseus, Hippomenes, Polyphemus, Acis and Galatea. Around the main fountain, twenty French queens and illustrious women, from Anne of Austria to Valentina Visconti. And scattered about the park, busts of famous writers and composers such as Baudelaire, Beethoven, Massenet, Sand, and Verlaine. They are all very still and unobtrusive company, so you can consider that the garden is just for you (and the ducks).
It is a paradox of frenzied modern living, that we sacrifice so much of ourselves to obtain material possessions that promise us a feeling of success. All the while, beautiful experiences beyond what money can buy are there just waiting for us. We just need to wake up in time.