History of the Gardens
Marie de Médicis, the wife of Henry IV, ordered the Palais du Luxembourg built on this site in 1612 shortly after she was widowed. Born in Florence, she wanted a palace and gardens that reminded her of the Pitti Palace in Florence . . . which is why these gardens seem Italianate.
The gardens are surrounded by the Left Bank neighborhoods where so many American writers and artists took up residence in the 1920s. Hemingway once told a friend that the Jardins du Luxembourg “kept us from starvation.” He related how in his poverty-stricken days in Paris he would wheel a baby carriage through the park. When the gendarmes were otherwise occupied and he spied a particularly plump pigeon, he’d scatter corn nearby, grab the bird, wring its neck, and pop it under the blanket in the baby carriage. “We got a little tired of pigeons that year,” he added, “but they filled many a void.”