From Royal Garden to Public ParkThe Tuileries Garden
This park in central Paris has been a breath of fresh air in the French capital for almost five hundred years. Today, everyone can enjoy a stroll through the garden that was once a royal and imperial family playground, where young king Louis XIII hunted quail and crows and the son of Napoleon I played in the walkways.
The eventful history of the Tuileries Garden
It all began in 1564. Nostalgic for the Florentine palaces of her childhood, Queen Catherine de’ Medici, Henri II’s widow, had a new palace and garden built outside the Paris city walls. The tile factories (tuileries) that had stood on the chosen spot since the Middle Ages gave the new royal residence and garden their name.
The garden was completely redesigned in 1664 by Louis XIV’s landscape gardener, André Le Nôtre. At that time, it was opened for the enjoyment of ‘respectable folk’.
After several modifications and partial privatisation – notably by Napoleon I then his nephew Napoleon III – it was finally opened to the general public in 1871.
The same year, during the Paris Commune uprising, rioters burned the Tuileries Palace down to protest against royal and imperial power. The palace was never rebuilt…but the garden has survived to this day.
In 1990, a competition was launched for the renovation of the Tuileries. The winning duo – landscape architects Pascal Cribier and Louis Benech – added contemporary innovations to the historical garden.
André Le Nôtre’s garden
André Le Nôtre, the famous creator of the gardens of Versailles, was born, lived and died in a house (now destroyed) at the very heart of the Tuileries Garden. His father and grandfather before him were also gardeners to the king. Le Nôtre arranged the Tuileries Garden in three large sections – a structure that has remained unchanged over the centuries.
Three different areas to enjoy
The Grand Carré
The Grand Couvert
The horseshoe ramps and the terraces
An open-air museum
The Tuileries Garden has been decorated with statues and vases since the 18th century. Each successive government has removed or added sculptures according to changes in taste. Many of the groves are home to sculptures loaned by museums of modern and contemporary art. Also represented are famous sculptors from the 17th century to the present day, including Antoine Coysevox, Auguste Rodin, Jean Dubuffet, Giuseppe Penone and Louise Bourgeois.
Specialised conservators are responsible for the maintenance of the sculptures. When necessary, the most fragile marble works are moved to the shelter of the Louvre – to the Cour Marly and Cour Puget (Richelieu wing) – and replaced in the garden by replicas.
A garden full of sculptures
Etienne Jules Ramey, Theseus Fighting the Minotaur
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